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Thinking in C++ Vol 2 - Practical Programming
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7: Generic Containers

Container classes are the solution to a specific kind of code reuse problem. They are building blocks used to create object oriented programs, and they make the internals of a program much easier to construct.

A container class describes an object that holds other objects. Container classes are so important that they were considered fundamental to early object-oriented languages. In Smalltalk, for example, programmers think of the language as the program translator together with the class library, and a critical part of that library is the set of container classes. It became natural, therefore, for C++ compiler vendors to also include a container class library. You ll note that the vector is so useful that it was introduced in its simplest form early in Volume 1 of this book.

Like many other early C++ libraries, early container class libraries followed Smalltalk s object-based hierarchy, which worked well for Smalltalk, but turned out to be awkward and difficult to use in C++. Another approach was required.

The C++ approach to containers is based on templates. The containers in the Standard C++ library represent a broad range of data structures designed to work well with the standard algorithms and to meet common software development needs.

Thinking in C++ Vol 2 - Practical Programming
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire