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The STL Vector Class
By: Developer Shed
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    by: cprogramming.com

    The STL Vector Class

    One of the basic classes implemented by the Standard Template Library is the vector class. What is a vector? A vector is, essentially, a resizeable array; the vector class allows random access via the [] operator, but adding an element anywhere but to the end of a vector causes some overhead as all of the elements are shuffled around to fit them correctly into memory. Fortunately, the memory requirements are equivalent to those of a normal array. The header file for the STL vector library is vector. Note that when using C++, header files drop the .h; for C header files - e.g. stdlib.h - you should still include the .h. Later we shall compare the use of vector and several other sequence containers that make up part of the STL.

    Vectors are more powerful than arrays because the number of functions that are available for accessing and modifying vectors. Unfortunately, the [] operator still does not provide bounds checking. Let's take a look at several functions provided by the vector class:

    unsigned int size();            Returns the number of elements in a vector
    push_back(TYPE element);        Adds an element to the end of a vector
    swap(int x, int y);             Swap elements x and y
    bool empty();                   Returns true if the vector is empty
    void clear();                   Erase all elements of the vector

    also, there are several basic operators defined for the vector class:

    =           Assignment replaces one vector's contents with the contents of another
    ==          An element by element comparison of two vectors
    []          Provides random access to an element of a vector (usage is similar to that
    of the operator with arrays.) Keep in mind that it does not provide
    bounds checking.

    Let's take a look at an example program using the vector class:

    #include <iostream>
    #include <vector>
    int main()
    vector <int> example;        //Vector to store integers
      example.push_back(3);         //Add 3 onto the vector
    example.push_back(10);        //Add 10 to the end
    example.push_back(33);        //Add 33 to the end
    for(int x=0; x<example.size(); x++) 
    cout<<example[x]<<" ";        //Should output: 3 10 33
    if(!example.empty())          //Checks if empty
    example.clear();              //Clears vector
    vector <int> another_vector;  //Creates another vector to store integers
    another_vector.push_back(10); //Adds to end of vector
    example.push_back(10);        //Same
    if(example==another_vector)   //To show testing equality
    example.switch(1, 2);         //Switches elements 1 and 2
    for(int y=0; y<example.size(); y++)
    cout<<example[y]<<" ";        //Should output 20 10
    return 0;

    Hopefully you know have an idea that vectors are useful and somewhat easier to use than regular arrays. At the very least, they get around having to be resized constantly using new and delete. Furthermore, their immense flexibility - support for any datatype and support for automatic resizing when adding elements - and the other helpful included functions gives the clear advantages to arrays.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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