[c++] How to initialize std::vector from C-style array?



1 Answers

You use the word initialize so it's unclear if this is one-time assignment or can happen multiple times.

If you just need a one time initialization, you can put it in the constructor and use the two iterator vector constructor:

Foo::Foo(double* w, int len) : w_(w, w + len) { }

Otherwise use assign as previously suggested:

void set_data(double* w, int len)
{
    w_.assign(w, w + len);
}
Question

What is the cheapest way to initialize a std::vector from a C-style array?

Example: In the following class, I have a vector, but due to outside restrictions, the data will be passed in as C-style array:

class Foo {
  std::vector<double> w_;
public:
  void set_data(double* w, int len){
   // how to cheaply initialize the std::vector?
}

Obviously, I can call w_.resize() and then loop over the elements, or call std::copy(). Are there any better methods?




You can 'learn' the size of the array automatically:

template<typename T, size_t N>
void set_data(const T (&w)[N]){
    w_.assign(w, w+N);
}

Hopefully, you can change the interface to set_data as above. It still accepts a C-style array as its first argument. It just happens to take it by reference.


How it works

[ Update: See here for a more comprehensive discussion on learning the size ]

Here is a more general solution:

template<typename T, size_t N>
void copy_from_array(vector<T> &target_vector, const T (&source_array)[N]) {
    target_vector.assign(source_array, source_array+N);
}

This works because the array is being passed as a reference-to-an-array. In C/C++, you cannot pass an array as a function, instead it will decay to a pointer and you lose the size. But in C++, you can pass a reference to the array.

Passing an array by reference requires the types to match up exactly. The size of an array is part of its type. This means we can use the template parameter N to learn the size for us.

It might be even simpler to have this function which returns a vector. With appropriate compiler optimizations in effect, this should be faster than it looks.

template<typename T, size_t N>
vector<T> convert_array_to_vector(const T (&source_array)[N]) {
    return vector<T>(source_array, source_array+N);
}





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