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Tip of the Day
Language: C++
Expertise: Intermediate
Jan 18, 2000

Iterators Aren't Pointers

Suppose you define a the following list object and you need the address of one of its elements:

  std::list <int>  li;  
  std::list <int>::iterator  iter = li.begin();

In many contexts, iter functions like a pointer. However, when you need a real pointer to a container's element, you can't use an iterator:

  int func(int * p);  
  int main()
    func(iter); // error, iter is not a pointer to int

The problem is that in general, iterators aren't pointers. Rather, they are usually implemented as objects. To get a pointer to the element an iterator refers to, you need to "dereference" that iterator and take the address of the result. For example:

  int main()
    func( &*iter); // ok
Danny Kalev
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