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Subject: Re: [boost] [range] [general] making member functions SFINAE-friendly
From: Andrey Semashev (andrey.semashev_at_[hidden])
Date: 2013-02-18 07:57:36

On Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 2:50 PM, Jonathan Wakely
<jwakely.boost_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> On 18 February 2013 10:19, Nathan Ridge wrote:
>>> Could you share a use case that requires to depend on size()
>>> specifically rather than the iterator category?
>> Given an arbitrary range r, determine its size by the fasest
>> means possible.
>> If we use std::distance, we can do it in O(1) for std::vector,
>> O(n) for std::map, and O(n) for std::forward_list.
>> If we can detect whether "r.size()" is a valid expression,
>> and use that if available, and std::distance otherwise, then
>> we have O(1) for std::vector, O(1) for std::map, and O(n) for
>> std::forward_list. Notice how that's an improvement for
>> std::map.
>> However, if detecting whether "r.size()" is a valid expression
>> cannot be done reliably (for example, if we determine that for
>> iterator_range<I> where I is not random-access it is a valid
>> expression, but then that static-asserts on us), then we
>> can't use this approach.
> Yes, that perfectly sums up my use case, thanks.
> I'm not "Depending on members of a third party component", I'm writing
> a generic component and someone tried to use it with
> boost::iterator_range and asked me why it didn't work.

Then your generic component depends on third party component (which
happened to be boost::iterator_range). When you try to introspect the
third party type you should expect all sorts of difficulties, that's
why I generally discourage it.

> The reason iterator_range::size() doesn't use std::distance is given
> at
> I think it's a valid choice to only allow size() when its O(1), c.f.
> std::forward_list, but I think it would be even better to not even
> define it when it can't be used, c.f. std::forward_list.

Well, the post doesn't give any rationale behind the choice, just that
it was decided that way. Personally, I don't think that O(N) size() is
invalid, however slow it may be. You do have list::size(), after all.

I agree that it may seem strange that iterator_range::size() is
present when it's not working but it is no less stranger that it
doesn't work when it could. IMHO, the right solution in this case
would be to fix iterator_range::size() to work in terms of

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