The STL (Standard Template Library) was originally a third-party library from HP and later SGI, before its incorporation into the C++ standard. The standard does not refer to it as “STL”, as it is merely a part of the standard library, but many people still use that term to distinguish it from the rest of the library (input/output streams [known as IOstreams], internationalization, diagnostics, the C library subset, etc.).

The Standard Template Library The C++ STL (Standard Template Library) is a powerful library intended to satisfy the vast bulk of your needs for containers and algorithms, but in a completely portable fashion. This means that not only are your programs easier to port to other platforms, but that your knowledge itself does not depend on the libraries provided by a particular compiler vendor (and the STL is likely to be more tested and scrutinized than a particular vendor’s library). Thus, it will benefit you greatly to look first to the STL for containers and algorithms, before looking at vendor-specific solutions.

A fundamental principle of software design is that all problems can be simplified by introducing an extra level of indirection. This simplicity is achieved in the STL using iterators to perform operations on a data structure while knowing as little as possible about that structure, thus producing data structure independence. With the STL, this means that any operation that can be performed on an array of objects can also be performed on an STL container of objects and vice versa. The STL containers work just as easily with built-in types as they do with user-defined types. If you learn the library, it will work on everything.

The drawback to this independence is that you’ll have to take a little time at first getting used to the way things are done in the STL. However, the STL uses a consistent pattern, so once you fit your mind around it, it doesn’t change from one STL tool to another.

Standard Template Library (STL) Tools

STL provides such useful tools as

  1. Containers (for example vectors and lists)
  2. Iterators (generalized pointers) to provide these containers with array-like access and algorithms to perform operations such as searching and sorting
  3. Furthermore (multi)maps (associative arrays) and (multi)sets are provided, all of which export compatible interfaces.

C/C++ The Standard Template Library

The Standard Template Library The C++ STL (Standard Template Library) is a powerful library intended to satisfy the vast bulk of your needs for containers and algorithms, but in a completely portable fashion. This means that not only are your programs easier to port to other platforms, but that your knowledge itself does not depend on the libraries provided by a particular compiler vendor (and the STL is likely to be more tested and scrutinized than a particular vendor’s library). Thus, it will benefit you greatly to look first to the STL for containers and algorithms, before looking at vendor-specific solutions.

A fundamental principle of software design is that all problems can be simplified by introducing an extra level of indirection. This simplicity is achieved in the STL using iterators to perform operations on a data structure while knowing as little as possible about that structure, thus producing data structure independence. With the STL, this means that any operation that can be performed on an array of objects can also be performed on an STL container of objects and vice versa. The STL containers work just as easily with built-in types as they do with user-defined types. If you learn the library, it will work on everything.

The drawback to this independence is that you’ll have to take a little time at first getting used to the way things are done in the STL. However, the STL uses a consistent pattern, so once you fit your mind around it, it doesn’t change from one STL tool to another.

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