C++ Standard Library Quick Reference

The C++ Standard Library

The C++ Standard Library is a collection of essential classes and functions used by millions of C++ programmers on a daily basis. Being part of the ISO Standard of the C++ Programming Language, an implementation is distributed with virtually every C++ compiler. Code written with the C++ Standard Library is therefore portable across compilers and target platforms.

The Library is more than 20 years old. Its initial versions were heavily inspired by a (then proprietary) C++ library called the Standard Template Library (STL) , so much so that many still incorrectly refer to the Standard Library as “the STL.” The STL library pioneered generic programming with templated data structures called containers and
algorithms , glued together with the concept of iterators . Most of this work was adapted by the C++ standardization committee, but nevertheless neither library is a true superset of the other.

The C++ Standard Library today is much more than the STL containers and algorithms. For decades, it has featured STL-like string classes, extensive localization facilities, and a stream-based I/O library, as well as all headers of the C Standard Library.

In recent years, the C++11 and C++14 editions of the ISO standard have added, among other things, hash map containers, generic smart pointers, a versatile random-numbergeneration framework, a powerful regular expression library, more expressive utilities for function-style programming, type traits for template metaprogramming, and a portable concurrency library featuring threads, mutexes, condition variables, and atomic variables. Many of these libraries are based on Boost, a collection of open-source C++ libraries. And this is just the beginning: the C++ community has rarely been as active and alive as in the past few years. The next version of the Standard, tentatively called C++17, is expected to add even more essential classes and functions.

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