Boost logo

Boost :

From: Ion Gaztañaga (igaztanaga_at_[hidden])
Date: 2007-03-20 13:08:17

Hi Hervé,

Hervé Brönnimann wrote:
> This being said, this is a first-rate and very useful library, and I
> vote whole-heartedly to accept it to boost.


> My main criticism is with one aspect of the design: in std::set and
> other associative container, the key (part of the value_type that
> determines the order) is constant, and cannot be changed (once
> constructed) since the std::set interface only grants constant access
> to it.

I'm not sure about this. Maybe some STL expert can correct me but I
think there are implementations where set::value_type can be modified.
But I'm not sure. Anyway, I find this to be a downside, because a
non-mutable value_type is quite limiting.

> This makes it possible to maintain the invariant of the
> std::set class. It is no longer possible to guarantee this with
> intrusive containers. You need to mention that upfront in the doc of
> iset with a big warning sign!

I will mention this. I think this is essential, because otherwise, we
couldn't implement other associative containers (like std::map, for
example) above Intrusive.

> For a long time, I have advocated separating the rbtree algorithms
> from the actual data structure, for reuse. I wrote a paper with
> Jyrki Katajainen (now a CPH STL report) about this. One can imagine
> applying rbtree algorithms, or avl_algorithms, or
> splay_tree_algorithms, all of them without a class; each offers a
> different tradeoff. In particular, I'd expect treaps to perform very
> well. In essence, this is exactly what your library does: it
> separates storage from algorithms, and thus offers the potential for
> reuse. This is the promise of generic programming even beyond the C+
> + STL.

My goal is to include all the algorithms people find useful, so that we
could use those algorithms directly or build Intrusive containers using
avl_trees, etc... For example, null ended linked lists are also useful.

> I think it is very natural, and would very much like to (but won't
> have the time), extend your framework with (geometric) halfedge and
> (combinatorial) graph-like data structures. I think it will be a
> great winner there, even more than standard C++ containers (one
> dimensional). Ultimately, because geometric algorithms typically
> require building several data structures on top of geometric objects,
> the framework here has even more value than the implementations.

I'm open to contributions, because my knowledge in this domain is null.
Although I've optimized a bit red-black tree algorithms, I don't even
know how a red-black tree works ;-) I think Intrusive framework can be
extended with more data types from users.

> A
> graph-like example compatible with the Boost Graph Library would
> superbly demonstrate the power of the approach!

It seems that you know a lot about this issue, would you mind sending me
an small example?

> * documentation: I wanted to see, while browsing the doc and
> clicking on the class name, the synopsis for header, in addition to
> the class interface for the class (following the C++ standard). But
> actually, by the end of the documentation, we get the header synopsis
> so the physical architecture of the library is clear.

Do you mean when the class names appears in the example code? I will
need to investigate a bit, because I'm currently using Quickbook code
importing facilities and I don't even know if this is possible. I'll try
to investigate a bit.

> * documentation: iterator and const_iterator types seems to be
> missing consistently for each class interface (from islist, ilist,
> but not from iset/imultiset.)

Ok. Thanks.

> * documentation: bool ConstantTimeSize = (default not provided in
> ilist and islist).

Yes, this is a Boostbook but already solved in HEAD. The next
documentation version will fix this.

> * design: const/mutable value type? While it is possible to violate
> the invariants of a std::set, that requires willfull wrongdoing from
> the programmer, whereas it seems much easier to inadvertently do so
> with intrusive set. Must be pointed out with a big warning sign.


> * documentation: iterator validity guarantees for islist are part of
> individual functions, an overview of the iterator validity rules in
> the description would be welcome.


> * indeed, the two foremost advantages of intrusive containers are:
> non-invalidation rules for iunordered_set, and possibility to store
> derived objects in the intrusive container (without extra
> indirection, that is - it's possible with storing pointers to object
> in std containers).

Good information for the introduction.

> * combination of smart pointers + intrusive containers: the
> intrusive container can't use simple pointers if the object lifetimes
> are managed by smart pointers. Thus it appears that having managed
> objects actually either forces the intrusive containers to use same
> managed pointers, or else to use the auto-unhook feature. This is
> not well discussed in the relevant page (about smart pointers and
> intrusive containers).

The documentation states that the smart pointer should have the same
ownership semantics as raw pointers, so smart pointers can't managed

> BTW, I don't understand the requirement on smart pointer that "It
> must have the same ownership semantics as a raw pointer." I don't
> see why a shared_ptr couldn't be used, in fact, I would find some
> advantages to doing so (preferable imho to the auto-unhook feature).
> But I haven't thought too long about it.

Basically because this would break the code. The pointers shouldn't
manage the lifetime. The lifetime must be managed externally.

> * rbtree_algorithms: here's a great opportunity to incorporate the
> order-statistic tree (augmented rbtree) with additional requirements
> on the node traits. If there is an int to spare in the data, then
> you can use it. You only have to make sure you use the correct
> algorithms (if rotating, etc., then the node's size field must be
> recomputed too for the order-statistic operations to be correct).
> The extra field can be computed at any given time (not necessary to
> maintain it through the insertions/manipulation) if only needed in
> one section of the code, and even reclaimed later if needed. This is
> similar to having a singly or doubly linked list sometimes or in
> other situations (see page "custom valueTraits").

I'm not familiar with this augmented rbtree. The color is supposed to be
a bit, so that some node implementations can embed it in the parent
color. By default this color bit is embedded for Intrusive hooks if the
alignment of the node is even. Maybe this new augmented rbtree must be
added as a new node algorithm class with its own NodeTraits definition.
Nodes compatible with this augmented rbtree will be compatible with the
simple rbtree node algorithms class.

> Thanks for a very promising library, and regards,

Thanks to you. Please if you feel the library can be improved better
adding more algorithms, feel free to propose and add your own
algorithms. But please, don't ask me to maintain them ;-)

> Herve Bronnimann

Thanks for you review and suggestions,


Boost list run by bdawes at, gregod at, cpdaniel at, john at