Standard Template Library


  • The standard template library (STL) is the heart of the C++ standard library. The STL is a generic library that provides solutions to managing collections of data with efficient algorithms.

  • The main components of STL that are provided to us as programming tools are algorithms and containers.

  • Usually, if we want to support A algorithms and C containers, we’d need A × C implementation. (For each container c, we would have to implement A algorithms.)

  • One solution to this is to use polymorphism. But it would decrease efficiency.

  • STL’s solution to this problem is to use iterators. Each container is required to provide iterators and each algorithm is implemented to work with iterators. As a result, STL needs to provide only A + C implementations for A algorithms and C containers.

  • There are many reasons to use the STL, so use it whenever you can in C++!

    • It allows to reuse already existing code. No need to reinvent the wheel!

    • It’s been optimized and is probably more efficient than your implementations of algorithms and data structures would be.

    • It’s most likely to be less buggy that the code you (initially) write.

    • The STL is standardized and is guaranteed to be available with C++ standard library.

    • Using it will provide you with a good knowledge of data structures and algorithms.

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