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The C++ Standard Library: A Tutorial and Reference Hardcover – Aug 12 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (Aug. 12 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201379260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201379266
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 4.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #76,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Programming with the C++ Standard Library can certainly be difficult, but Nicolai Josuttis's The C++ Standard Library provides one of the best available guides to using the built-in features of C++ effectively.

The C++ Standard Library provides plenty of default functionality in the form of the Standard Template Library (STL) for containers (like vectors and linked lists), as well as generic algorithms (which allow you to sort, search, and manipulate elements inside containers). The best thing about The C++ Standard Library is that it gives the reader a concise guide to working with these basic containers (from lists to sets and maps, with everything in between). Each container type is explained along with short code excerpts. Moreover, in a reference section, the author explores the connections between each container type, showing how they share similar methods. (Learn just a few methods and you can pretty much work with them all.)

In addition to STL, this book excels at providing a readable introduction to the generic algorithms (which can be used to sort, search, and otherwise manipulate STL containers). Other books either fold this material in with the explanation of containers or make it seem like an esoteric topic. The fact is, generic algorithms work with all the STL types, and by separating these algorithms out like this the reader can learn the rich array of algorithms available in today's standard C++. While this book concentrates on STL and algorithms, readers will still find great coverage on Standard Library string classes and streams (including a fine section on internationalization and locales).

For the beginning or intermediate C++ programmer, The C++ Standard Library can be a real timesaver. It arranges and explains the complexities of the C++ Standard Library and STL in a manageable format that's great as a reference and as an approach to programming. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered: history of C++ and the Standard Library, template basics, Big-O Notation, the std namespace, standard exceptions, allocators, standard library utilities, pairs and auto_ptr, numeric limits, the Standard Template Library (STL) basics, containers, iterators, algorithms, vectors, lists, deques, strings, sets, multisets, bitsets, maps, multimaps, stacks, queues, iterator adapters, function objects, element requirements, value and reference semantics, complex numbers, valarrays, stream classes, stream manipulators and formatting, file I/O, internationalization, and locales.

From the Inside Flap

In the beginning, I only planned to write a small German book (400 pages or so) about the C++ Standard Library. That was in 1993. Now, in 1999 you see the result--an English book with more than 800 pages of facts, figures, and examples. My goal is to describe the C++ Standard Library so that all (or almost all) your programming questions are answered before you think of the question. Note, however, that this is not a complete description of all aspects of the C++ Standard Library. Instead, I present the most important topics necessary for learning and programming in C++by using its standard library.

Each topic is described based on the general concepts;this discussion then leads to the specific details needed to support everyday programming tasks. Specific code examples are provided to help you understand the concepts and the details.

That's it--in a nutshell. I hope you get as much pleasure from reading this book as I did from writing it. Enjoy!


This book presents ideas, concepts,solutions, and examples from many sources. In a way it does not seem fair that my name is the only name on the cover. Thus, I'd like to thank all the people and companies who helped and supported me during the past few years.

First, I'd like to thank Dietmar Kuhl. Dietmar is an expert on C++, especially on input/output streams and internationalization (he implemented an I/O stream library just for fun). He not only translated major parts of this book from German to English, he also wrote sections of this book using his expertise. In addition, he provided me with invaluable feedback over the years.

Second, I'd like to thank all the reviewers and everyone else who gave me their opinion. These people endow the book with a quality it would never have had without their input. (Because the list is extensive, please forgive me for any oversight.) The reviewers for the English version of this book included Chuck Allison, Greg Comeau, James A. Crotinger, Gabriel Dos Reis, Alan Ezust, Nathan Meyers, Werner Mossner, Todd Veldhuizen, Chichiang Wan, Judy Ward, and Thomas Wikehult. The German reviewers included Ralf Boecker, Dirk Herrmann, Dietmar Kuhl, Edda Lorke, Herbert Scheubner, Dominik Strasser, and Martin Weitzel. Additional input was provided by Matt Austern, Valentin Bonnard, Greg Colvin, Beman Dawes, Bill Gibbons, Lois Goldthwaite, Andrew Koenig, Steve Rumbsby, Bjarne Stroustrup, and David Vandevoorde.

Special thanks to Dave Abrahams, Janet Cocker, Catherine Ohala, and Maureen Willard who reviewed and edited the whole book very carefully. Their feedback was an incredible contribution to the quality of this book.

A special thanks goes to my "personal living dictionary"--Herb Sutter--the author of the famous "Guru of the Week" (a regular series of C++ programming problems that is published on the comp.std.c++.moderated Internet newsgroup).

I'd also like to thank all the people and companies who gave me the opportunity to test my examples on different platforms with different compilers. Many thanks to Steve Adamczyk, Mike Anderson, and John Spicer from EDG for their great compiler and their support. It was a big help during the standardization process and the writing of this book. Many thanks to P. J. Plauger and Dinkumware, Ltd, for their early standard-conforming implementation of the C++ Standard Library. Many thanks to Andreas Hommel and Metrowerks for an evaluative version of their CodeWarrior Programming Environment. Many thanks to all the developers of the free GNU and egcs compilers. Many thanks to Microsoft for an evaluative version of Visual C++. Many thanks to Roland Hartinger from Siemens Nixdorf Informations Systems AG for a test version of their C++ compiler. Many thanks to Topjects GmbH for an evaluative version of the ObjectSpace library implementation.

And, of course many thanks for those who invented, designed, or implemented C++ or parts of the library. Among others are Bjarne Stroustrup, Alexander Stepanov, Meng Lee, Matt Austern, Boris P. Fomichev, and all the other guys who wrote the SGI STL and the STLport.

Many thanks to everyone from Addison Wesley Longman who worked with me. Among others this includes Janet Cocker, Mike Hendrickson, Debbie Lafferty, Marina Lang, Chanda Leary, Catherine Ohala, Marty Rabinowitz, Susanne Spitzer,and Maureen Willard. It was fun.

In addition, I'd like to thank the people at BREDEX GmbH and all the people in the C++ community, particularly those involved with the standardization process, for their support and patience (sometimes I ask really silly questions).

Last but not least, many thanks and kisses for my family: Ulli, Lucas, Anica, and Frederic. I definitely did not have enough time for them due to the writing of this book.

Have fun and be human!

About this Book

Soon after its introduction, C++ became a de facto standard in object-oriented programming. This led to the goal of standardization. Only by having a standard, could programs be written that would run on different platforms--from PCs to mainframes. Furthermore, a standard C++ library would enable programmers to use general components and a higher level of abstraction without losing portability, rather than having to develop all code from scratch.

The standardization process was started in 1989 by an international ANSI/ISO committee.After the standard was completed in 1997,several formal motions by different countries made it an international ISO and ANSI standard in 1998. The standardization process included the development of a C++ Standard Library. The library extends the core language to provide some general components. By using C++'s ability to program new abstract and generic types, the library provides a set of common classes and interfaces. This gives programmers a higher level of abstraction. The library provides the ability to use string types, different data structures (such as dynamic arrays, linked lists, and binary trees), different algorithms (such as different sorting algorithms), numeric classes, input/output (I/O) classes, and classes for internationalization support.

All of these are supported by a fairly simple programming interface. These components are very important for many programs. These days, data processing often means inputting, computing, processing, and outputting large amounts of data, which are often strings.

The library is not self-explanatory. To use these components and to benefit from their power,you need a good introduction that explains the concepts and the important details instead of simply listing the classes and their functions. This book is written exactly for that purpose. First, it introduces the library and all of its components from a conceptional point of view. Next, it describes the details needed for practical programming. Examples are included to demonstrate the exact usage of the components. Thus, this book is a detailed introduction to the C++ library for both the beginner and the practical programmer. Armed with the data provided herein, you should be able to take full advantage of the C++ Standard Library.


I don't promise that everything described is easy and self-explanatory. The library provides a lot of flexibility,but flexibility for nontrivial purposes has a price. Beware that the library has traps and pitfalls,which I point out when we encounter them and suggest ways of avoiding them.

What You Should Know Before Reading this Book

To get the most from this book you should already know C++. (The book describes the standard components of C++, but not the language itself.) You should be familiar with the concepts of classes, inheritance,templates, and exception handling. However, you don't have to know all of the minor details about the language. The important details are described in the book (the minor details about the language are more important for people who want to implement the library rather than use it). Note that the language has changed during the standardization process,so your knowledge might not be up to date.

The section on newlang features provides a brief overview and introduction of the latest language features that are important for using the library. You should read this section if you are not sure whether you know all the new features of C++ (such as the keyword {\tt typename} and the concept of namespaces).

Style and Structure of the Book

The C++ Standard Library provides different components that are somewhat but not totally independent of each other,so there is no easy way to describe each part without mentioning others. I considered several different approaches for presenting the contents of this book. One was on the order of the C++ standard. However, this is not the best way to explain the components of the C++ Standard Library from scratch. Another was to start with an overview of all components followed by chapters that provided more details. Alternatively, I could have sorted the components, trying to find an order that had a minimum of cross-references to other sections. My solution was to use a mixture of all three approaches.

I start with a brief introduction of the general concepts and the utilities that are used by the library. Then, I describe all the components, each in one or more chapters. The first component is the standard template library (STL). There is no doubt that the STL is the most powerful, most complex, and most exciting part of the library. Its design influences other components heavily. Then I describe the more self-explanatory components, such as special containers, strings,and numeric classes. The next component discussed is one you probably know and use already: the iostreamlib{}. It is followed by a discussion of internationalization, which had some influence on the iostreamlib{}.

Each component description begins with the component's purpose, design, and some examples. Next, a detailed description follows that begins with different ways to use the component, as well as any traps and pitfalls associated with it. The description usually ends with a reference section, in which you can find the exact signature and definition of a component's classes and its functions.

How to Read this Book

This book is a mix of introductory user's guide and structured reference manual regarding the C++ Standard Library. The individual components of the C++ Standard Library are independent of each other, to some extent, so after reading Chapters 2 through 4 you could read the chapters that discuss the individual components in any order. Bear in mind,that Chapters 5 through 9 all describe the same component. To understand the other STL chapters, you should start with the introduction to the STL in chapter 5.

If you are a C++ programmer who wants to know, in general, the concepts and all parts of the library, you could simply read the book from the beginning to the end. However, you should skip the reference sections (which usually are named something like "...{} in detail}"). To program with certain components of the C++ Standard Library, the best way to find something is to use the index. I have tried to make the index very comprehensive to save you time when you are looking for something.

I can't explain all aspects at the same time, so you will find many cross references. It is always a problem to decide whether to follow them. If the cross reference refers to a section that will follow soon, take it as hint that I return to an aspect later. You should follow the cross reference only if you are searching for certain aspects or details and the cross reference seems to lead to details concerning your problem or its solution.

In my experience, the best way to learn something new is to look at examples. Therefore, you'll find a lot of examples throughout the book. They may be a few lines of code or complete programs. In the latter case, you'll find the name of the file containing the program's first comment line.

State of the Art

While I was writing this book,the C++ standard was completed. Please bear in mind that some compilers might not yet confirm to it. This will most likely change in the near future. As a consequence, you might discover that not all things covered in this book work as described on your system,and you may have to change example programs to fit your specific environment. I can compile almost all example programs with version 2.Please read the {\tt README} file for further details. Also, you can find a lot of additional information about this topic on the Internet. See Internet Resources on page 743 for details.


I welcome your feedback (good and bad) on this book. I tried to prepare it carefully; however, I'm human, and at some time I have to stop writing and tweaking. So, you may find some errors, inconsistencies, or subjects that could be described better. Your feedback will give me the chance to improve later

editions. The best way to reach me is by Email: libbook@josuttis.

You can also reach me by phone, fax, or "snail" mail:
Nicolai M. Josuttis
Berggarten 9
Phone: +49 5309 5747
Fax: +49 5309 5774

Many thanks.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is a tutorial and a complete reference at the same time. I already knew very well STL when I have read this book but reading this book has been very enjoyable because I really appreciated its format. The tutorial and reference part are not clearly separated in 2. I hate books where you never read the reference part because it is as fun to read than reading a phone book.

Of course, the first part is strictly tutorial where it introduce STL, its basic principles and a quick overview of all the services provided by the library to the reader. Then lengthy chapters follow to cover containers and algorithms. This is where the book shines. It covers one by one each container and each algorithm and to support their description, a small sample program follows.

Before this book, there were some algorithms that I could not figure out exactly what was their purpose or how to use them correctly just from their description in the STL man pages. By reading the samples source code of this book, I had many 'AhAh' moments where finally I could understand some algorithms less frequently used. For all there reasons, I am very happy with my decision to get hold of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book taught me things about C++ and the Standard Template Library that no C++ class ever has. In high school, I took a C++ class which taught me the very basics of C++. Now that I'm in college, I've taken several C++ classes, though none of them have even touched on the STL concepts covered in this book. If you know the basics of C++ and want to learn how to use the C++ Standard Template Library to its greatest potential, you MUST get this book.
This book covers virtually the entire C++ Standard Template Library in an easy to understand way. Not only does it have several graphs and tables which make it a great quick reference, it also goes in depth to make you understand how things are working. The footnotes make sure everything is totally clear and no corner is cut. There are many full examples, and the website has downloadable archives of the examples and more.
I can't say it enough. If you use C++ and don't know how to use the Standard Template Library, you need this book. It is interesting, informative, and well written.
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Format: Hardcover
This book rocks. I learned C++ during the tumultuous years before standardization, then forgot the language due to lack of use in my job. Now that I am re-learning the language, I find that a lot has changed. Vague recollections of the way things worked often led me down the wrong path. C++ today is not the C++ I remember studying, to say the least.
Josuttis has cleared up all my questions and misunderstandings about Standard C++. Within the book are short sample programs illustrating how to use library components as well as clear, descriptive text on the objects in the Standard Library. Features are intelligently divided into chapters, which has, more than once, resulted in me finding a very novel way to solve a problem I only had a rough idea on how to solve.
Since buying this book, Stroustrup has sat idle on my bookshelf, and Lippman - well, Lippman's at work. Josuttis has made the C++ Standard Library much more accessible, making my transition from forgotten pre-standard C++ to Standard C++ much less painful than I expected.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most useful books I have for C++ programming. I mainly use it as a reference and to look at examples.
The beginning of the book contains very good information about the new features of the C++ language that have been added by the standard. It covers things like the proper use of the standard C++ exception classes, namespaces, and templates. It talks about what operators you need defined for your classes in order for you classes to work well with STL. It goes into all the data structures and algorithms that are included with STL and a bunch of other topics that are really cool but I rarely use, like function objects and auto pointers. STL is a lot more than I realized until I read this.
For a general book that talks about problem solving or algorithms and data structures you should not choose this one. In fact to learn the theory you would get more out of writing your own data structures than using the standard library anyway. But if you are past the theory and you are tired of rewriting maps and vectors than STL is golden. This book describes STL better than any other that I have read.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Josuttis offers in this book an amazingly comprehensive guide to the often bewildering C++ standard library. I originally purchased this book looking for more STL information, and I was certainly not disappointed in that respect. STL descriptions account for nearly half of the book volume. However, as non-STL questions arose, I found myself digging into this book time and time again (questions about auto_ptr, string class, allocators, etc).
If you're a C++ programmer and do not already own a current (circa 1999 or later) library reference, do yourself and your code a favor and grab a copy of this book. C++ is an extremely scalable language. It's easy to use only knowing a small subset of the language and library features. Having a reference such as this one ensures that you'll be less likely to accidentally duplicate work that has already been done for you in the standard library.
As far as book organization goes, I'd say that the book does lean more towards "reference" rather than "tutorial", but I never believe a book that claims to be both anyhow. Anyone interested in a pure tutorial should buy a book specifically written with that in mind. For more experienced programmers not needing quite as much hand holding, however, the book does work as advertised.
Overall, I can't really recommend this book more enthusiastically.
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