Standard Library Function Helpers

Performance Considerations with std::function

Are there any performance considerations I should be aware of when using std::function?

Abstract art representing computer programming

Yes, there are some performance considerations to keep in mind when using std::function:

Overhead of Type Erasure

std::function uses a technique called type erasure, which allows it to store and invoke any callable object that matches its call signature. However, this flexibility comes at a cost. The type erasure mechanism involves some runtime overhead, such as an extra level of indirection and potential memory allocation.

If performance is critical in your application and you're using std::function in performance-sensitive code paths, you might want to consider alternatives like function pointers or templates, which can provide better performance.

Copying and Moving

When you copy or move a std::function object, it needs to copy or move the stored callable object as well. Depending on the size and complexity of the stored callable, this operation can be expensive.

If you're passing std::function objects around frequently, especially by value, it can impact performance. In such cases, consider passing them by reference or using std::ref or std::cref to wrap them.


When you call a function through a std::function object, the compiler usually can't inline the function call because the actual callable is not known at compile-time due to type erasure. Inlining is an optimization technique where the compiler replaces a function call with the actual function code, avoiding the overhead of a function call.

If the callable inside the std::function is small and would benefit from inlining, using std::function can prevent that optimization.

When to Use std::function

Despite these performance considerations, std::function is still a powerful and useful tool in many situations. It's particularly handy when you need to store and invoke callables with different types, such as in callback mechanisms, event handling systems, or when working with higher-order functions.

The performance impact of using std::function is often negligible unless you're using it in tight loops or performance-critical sections of your code. As with any performance-related decision, it's best to profile and measure the actual impact in your specific use case before making optimizations.

Answers to questions are automatically generated and may not have been reviewed.

A computer programmer
Part of the course:

Professional C++

Comprehensive course covering advanced concepts, and how to use them on large-scale projects.

Free, unlimited access

This course includes:

  • 124 Lessons
  • 550+ Code Samples
  • 96% Positive Reviews
  • Regularly Updated
  • Help and FAQ
Free, Unlimited Access

Professional C++

Comprehensive course covering advanced concepts, and how to use them on large-scale projects.

Screenshot from Warhammer: Total War
Screenshot from Tomb Raider
Screenshot from Jedi: Fallen Order
Contact|Privacy Policy|Terms of Use
Copyright © 2024 - All Rights Reserved