How to use the STL documentation

This site documents all of the components (classes, functions, and concepts) in the SGI Standard Template Library. Each page describes a single component, and also includes links to related components.

This documentation assumes a general familiarity with C++, especially with C++ templates. Additionally, you should read Introduction to the Standard Template Library before proceeding to the pages that describe individual components: the introductory page defines several terms that are used throughout the documentation.

Classification of STL components

The STL components are divided into six broad categories on the basis of functionality: Containers, Iterators, Algorithms, Function Objects, Utilities, and Allocators; these categories are defined in the Introduction, and the Table of Contents is organized according to them.

The STL documentation contains two indices. One of them, the Main Index, lists all components in alphabetical order. The other, the Divided Index, contains a separate alphabetical listing for each category. The Divided Index includes one category that is not present in the Table of Contents: Adaptors. An adaptor is a class or a function that transforms one interface into a different one. The reason that adaptors don't appear in the Table of Contents is that no component is merely an adaptor, but always an adaptor and something else; stack, for example, is a container and an adaptor. Accordingly, stack appears in two different places in the Divided Index. There are several other components that appear in the Divided Index in more than one place.

The STL documentation classifies components in two ways.

  1. Categories are a classification by functionality. The categories are:
  2. Component types are a structural classification: one based on what kind of C++ entity (if any) a component is. The component types are:

These two classification schemes are independent, and each of them applies to every STL component; vector, for example, is a type whose category is Containers, and Forward Iterator is a concept whose category is Iterators.

Both of these classification schemes appear at the top of every page that documents an STL component. The upper left corner identifies the the component's category as Containers, Iterators, Algorithms, Function Objects, Utilities, Adaptors, or Allocators, and the upper right corner identifies the component as a type, a function, or a concept.

Using the STL documentation

The STL is a generic library: almost every class and function is a template. Accordingly, one of the most important purposes of the STL documentation is to provide a clear description of which types may be used to instantiate those templates. As described in the Introduction, a concept is a generic set of requirements that a type must satisfy: a type is said to be a model of a concept if it satisfies all of that concept's requirements.

Concepts are used very heavily in the STL documentation, both because they directly express type requirements, and because they are a tool for organizing types conceptually. (For example, the fact that ostream_iterator and insert_iterator are both models of Output Iterator is an important statement about what those two classes have in common.) Concepts are used for the documentation of both types and functions.

The format of a concept page

A page that documents a concept has the following sections.

The format of a type page

A page that documents a type has the following sections.

The format of a function page

A page that documents a function has the following sections.

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