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c++.stl.port - potential anti-clobbering design (of containers & iterators) vs. actuality -- especially, strings

Evidently, it is easy to get into trouble with code like

*scanOut = *scanIn;

where scanOut and scanIn are (say, string) iterators.  For example, you
apparently only get one chance to store something in any given location with
"*scanOut = something;", at least while the value of scanOut is unchanged.  It
is not clear if is ok to execute "scanSave = scanOut;" and then execute, say, "
*scanOut = something; *scanSave = something_else;" so that neither of the
iterators scanOut and scanSave has been used explicitly more than once as an
assignment l-value to store something at a given location.

Also, it is not clear whether the container classes and iterators (and their
operators) are defined so that the container objects will automatically
reallocate and expand storage where "*scanOut = something;" amounts to storing
items at one passed the last element (i.e., at location container.end() ).
Conceivably, the definition of iterators could keep track of what particular
container objects their values are derived from and thus make reallocation
adjustments as necessary.

An example of these difficulties can be found at


with a correction at


My solution was to 1) use the "string.push_back(char ch)" function for storage
in place of " *scanOut = something;" and to 2) put all the conditional
statements into one extended "if(....) .... else if(....) .... else if(....)
... .... else ...." chain so that only one of the statement parts would be

Also, it is not clear whether the string class uses some efficient storage
reservation and reallocation scheme to reduce potential overhead of reallocating
storage with each and every appending of single characters at the end of the

For example, an efficient reallocation scheme could automatically reserve, say,
twenty extra, unused spaces for the string each time a reallocation is made.
That would, in general, reduce the reallocation overhead to one twentieth of
what it might be without any reservation of unused space.  Perhaps, a better
reallocation algorithm would strictly reserve, say, twenty extra spaces and to
also reserve say 100 extra spaces on a lower, shared priority basis with other
requests for storage; in that way, the overhead might usually be reduced to one
one-hundredth of the reallocation overhead that would occur with no reservation
of unused space.

Evidently, the vector class allows explicit requests for reserved space, but the
functions provided do not seem to provide the automated flexibility contemplated
here for maximum efficiency.  It would be desirable to have very simple, fast
inline code to test for space presently available each time a new element is
added.  When reserved space is entirely consumed, a function could be called to
reallocate space, and the user could override that function to provide his own
optimal parameters of reallocation; he could also call another function (perhaps
an overridden function from a base class) to take care of reallocation details.
Mar 22 2004