Static Arrays using std::array

std::array vs C-style Arrays

What are the advantages of using std::array over traditional C-style arrays?

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std::array is a container provided by the C++ Standard Library that encapsulates a fixed-size array. It provides several advantages over traditional C-style arrays:

  1. Size and Type Information: With a C-style array, the size and type of the array can decay when passed to a function. This means the function doesn't know the size of the array, which can lead to errors. std::array, on the other hand, preserves its size and type information.
  2. Bounds Checking: std::array provides an at() function for accessing elements, which performs bounds checking and throws an exception if the index is out of range. C-style arrays do not have built-in bounds checking.
  3. STL Compatibility: std::array is compatible with the Standard Template Library (STL). This means you can use STL algorithms (like std::sort, std::find, etc.) directly on a std::array. With C-style arrays, you would need to pass pointers and sizes to these algorithms.
  4. Member Functions: std::array provides member functions like size(), empty(), front(), back(), etc., which make it easier to work with the array. C-style arrays don't have these member functions.

Here's an example that illustrates some of these differences:

#include <array>
#include <iostream>
#include <algorithm>

void PrintArray(const std::array<int, 5>& arr) {
  std::cout << "Size: " << arr.size() << '\n';

  for (int i : arr) {
    std::cout << i << ' ';
  std::cout << '\n';

int main() {
  std::array<int, 5> MyArray{5, 2, 3, 1, 4};

  std::sort(MyArray.begin(), MyArray.end());

Size: 5
1 2 3 4 5

In this example:

  • The¬†PrintArray¬†function knows the size of the array because it's encoded in the type of¬†arr.
  • We can directly sort¬†MyArray¬†using¬†std::sort¬†because¬†std::array¬†provides¬†begin()¬†and¬†end()¬†functions.

However, C-style arrays do have one advantage: they can be initialized from string literals, which is not possible with std::array.

Despite this, in most cases, std::array is a safer and more convenient choice than C-style arrays.

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

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