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Subject: Re: [boost] Boost Graph library - r_c_shortest_paths
From: Jeremiah Willcock (jewillco_at_[hidden])
Date: 2010-02-22 16:33:59

On Mon, 22 Feb 2010, Andrew Sutton wrote:

>> I checked the files I sent you and they were the correct versions (all
>> three code files: the test file, the example file, and
>> r_c_shortest_paths.hpp). The test and example files both run without any
>> problems on my system (WIN XP 32 SP 3, MS Visual C++ 2008).
> I've finally had some time to go through the resubmission. There are/were a
> number of issues that need to be addressed.
> First, property maps, functors, and visitors are virtually always passed
> by value. If those objects need to maintain complex state between calls,
> it's typically done by building a functor (visitor, etc) that has a
> reference to an external state object. I fixed this.

I agree.

> Second, I removed the ks_smart_ptr class, which turned out to be not very
> smart. It only wrapped the pointer, but didn't manage it in any way. I also
> cleaned up some of the allocation/deallocation code by moving the calls to
> two new functions create and destroy.
> Inidentally, valgrind shows that this implementation leaks memory. I put
> cout's in create and destroy to count allocations and deletions (16646
> allocs to 15994 deallocs). My guess is that one of the rarer code paths in
> the dispatch doesn't actually delete. This needs to be investigated.

See my comment below about getting rid of heap-allocated labels entirely.

> Third... just a style point... some of the identifiers are a little long. I
> think the readability could be improved by shortening them.
> Fourth, and I'm hoping to get Jeremiah's input on this... I'm not a fan of
> passing vector<vector<>>& or vector<>& as top-level parameters. It might be
> better to require a template parameter that is essentially a matrix- or
> vector-like object. That would simplify the call interface and allow a
> little more freedom w.r.t. parameter types. Thoughts?

I am not a fan of them either. It might be better for the user to provide
an output iterator for each output, which the algorithm writes to. Also,
what if the user does not want one of the vector outputs? Look at
libs/graph/doc/mcgregor_common_subgraphs.html for one possible approach to
this problem; there, a user-supplied property map is updated with each
solution (there, a partial isomorphism between graphs) and a user function
is called after the solution is written.

I have not gone through this tarball before, so I have some other
comments based on the documentation; I have not looked through the code:

The function description should start with the prototype, not just the
parameter names. It also only lists one overload, while other parts of
the documentation hint at others with different parameter combinations.

What is the point of a label allocator? Do they need to be full
allocators? Do labels need to be heap-allocated objects at all, or would
a value class make more sense (in combination with property maps to
express paths)? It looks like labels may not make sense at all; perhaps
there can be property maps for cumulated_resource_consumption, pred_edge,
and is_dominated, each indexed by graph vertices? That would likely
improve performance and simplify the algorithm's interface?

Also, what does the Resource Container concept represent? The
documentation gives no meaningful information that I can see; it has no
valid expressions or associated types. Is it actually a container of some
sort, or just an abstract object defined by the user? It appears that the
intent is that it is an arbitrary object with a partial order and an
extend operation (both given as separate function objects); is that
correct? It might also be good to separate the extend operation from the
enforcement of the resource constraints on the edge target. Can extend be
a weight map and a combine function object (like for shortest path
algorithms), plus a feasibility function object or property map?

The requirements on the dominance function don't make sense; if you
require that it returns true iff rc1 <= rc2, why not just use the
expression rc1 <= rc2? I think the intent is that it define a partial
order; are there any other properties required (such as upper or lower
bounds for all values, a compatibility criterion with the extend
operation, ...)? For example, is there a constraint such as non-negative
edge weights (i.e., rc must dominate extend(rc, x) or vice versa for any
edge weight x)? It appears not, but there are likely some undocumented
compatibility criteria there. Also, is there a reason that it acts like
<= rather than < like other orders in STL do? Is a <= b a domain
convention for "a dominates b"? In the precondition section, there is a
mention of < and == on resource containers; why do you not just use the
dominance function for <? Having a function object makes relatively
little sense when it must match the behavior of a fixed operator.

If you do decide to keep label objects, the Label concept should just be a
prototype of the structure if there is only one type that is allowed to be
used in that position; a concept that can only ever have one model is
usually unnecessary.

> Fifth... and Final... The interface to the algorithm is changing which can
> break backwards compatibility. Maybe we need to give the new module a
> different name. Thoughts?

Since it is an existing BGL function, it probably does. How different are
the interfaces between the two versions?

-- Jeremiah Willcock

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