ronag ronag - 2 months ago 24x
C++ Question

push_back vs emplace_back

I'm a bit confused regarding the difference between


void emplace_back(Type&& _Val);
void push_back(const Type& _Val);
void push_back(Type&& _Val);

As there is a
overload taking a rvalue reference I don't quite see what the purpose of


In addition to what visitor said :

The function void emplace_back(Type&& _Val) provided by MSCV10 is non conforming and redundant, because as you noted it is strictly equivalent to push_back(Type&& _Val).

But the real C++0x form of emplace_back is really useful: void emplace_back(Args&&...);

Instead of taking a value_type it takes a variadic list of arguments, so that means that you can now perfectly forward the argument and construct directly an object into a container without temporary at all.

That's useful, Because no matter how much cleverness RVO and move semantic bring to the table there is still complicated cases where a push_back is likely to make unnecessary copies (or move). For example, with the traditional insert() function of a std::map, you have to create a temporary, which will then be copied into a std::pair<Key, Value>, which will then be copied into the map :

std::map<int, Complicated> m;
int anInt = 4;
double aDouble = 5.0;
std::string aString = "C++";

// cross your finger so that the optimizer is really good
m.insert(std::make_pair(4, Complicated(anInt, aDouble, aString))); 

// should be easier for the optimizer
m.emplace(4, anInt, aDouble, aString);

So why didn't they implement the right version of emplace_back in MSVC ? Actually it bugged me too a while ago, so I asked the same question on the Visual C++ blog. Here is the answer from Stephan T Lavavej, the official maintainer of the Visual C++ standard library implementation at Microsoft.

Q : Are beta 2 emplace functions just some kind of placeholder right now ?

A : As you may know, variadic templates aren't implemented in VC10. We simulate them with preprocessor machinery for things like make_shared<T>(), tuple, and the new things in <functional>. This preprocessor machinery is relatively difficult to use and maintain. Also, it significantly affects compilation speed, as we have to repeatedly include subheaders. Due to a combination of our time constraints and compilation speed concerns, we haven't simulated variadic templates in our emplace functions.

When variadic templates are implemented in the compiler, you can expect that we'll take advantage of them in the libraries, including in our emplace functions. We take conformance very seriously, but unfortunately we can't do everything all at once.

It's an understandable decision. Everyone who tried just once to emulate variadic template with preprocessor horrible tricks know how disgusting this stuff gets.