using vector to encapulate a tree - non const copy constructors

"terry" <>
15 Nov 2006 21:09:35 -0500
Repost as the original (13th Oct) did not appear on the site.

Hi, I have a problem with the way some implimentations of vector and other
stl containers refuse to use non-const contructors. My question is - is
the way they function the correct interpretation of the standard - and
if so

The following data structure
class mytree: public T, protected std::vector<mytree>{};

defines a tree with an object of type T at each node (it is in top down
form where at each node, one has a value of type T, and a container of

Of course, one must define copy constructors and assignment operators and
maybe some interesting iterators before it has real value, but still, the
above declaration gives a top down encapsulation for trees.

The problem for me is that, for efficiency, one needs a non-const version
of the assignment and copy constructors. Everyone expects the constructor

mytree(const mytree & rhs)

to be defined, and of course it must do a deep copy, perhaps based on
using std::vector::assign. But one also really needs

mytree(mytree & rhs)

where the constructor copies the T object and swaps the container content
from the rhs into the lhs and so moves the whole tree just by moving the

The rhs has no meaning afterwards but this is what you expect and want in
many circumstances. This constructor will probably use std::vector::swap
to move the content of the container of trees across.

Overall, this can easily be developed to construct an elegant tree as well
variant data structures for specific circumstances with good reuse of code.
The STL class manages all data allocation and deletion etc. Insertions are
relatively cheap etc.

The penalties of the deep copy are used only if they are required.

My problem is that it seems that whenever a controlled sequence is copied or
moved to a new location by the stl container implimentations in microsoft or
g++ configurations the code seems to convert the objects to be copied to
reference types before calling the copy constructor.

This is, in my view, a bad decision, as I believe that it is up to the
input_iterator pointing to the data to be moved to decide whether the
controlled sequence is const and then C++ should choose the constructor
appropriately to match the signature presented.

Is this an issue caused by the standard?

Here is an example that, I hope, demonstrates the issue clearly:

#include <vector>

class T
  T(const T & a){} //const copy constructor

class S
  S(S& a){} //copy constructor

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
  std::vector<T> u(10);
  T a;
  T* pp=&a;
  T* p=pp++;
  std::vector<T> v(p,pp);
// std::vector<S> u(10);
//uncomment the line above to produce an error
//even though there is a default constructor
  S a;
  S* pp=&a;
  S* p=pp++;
  //std::vector<S> v(p,pp);
//uncomment the line above produces an error
//even though there is a copy constructor
//and p is of type S*
//and so provides write-able access to its target so the provided copy
//constructor could be used
  return 0;

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