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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Using the iostream Iterators

Imagine that we have been given the task of reading a sequence of string elements from standard input, storing them into a vector, sorting them, and then writing the words back to standard output. A typical solution looks like this:

#include <iostream>
#include <string>
#include <vector>
#include <algorithm>
using namespace std;

int main()
  string word;
  vector<string> text;

  // ok: let's read each word in turn until done
  while ( cin >> word )
      text.push_back( word );

  // ok: sort it
  sort( text.begin(), text.end() );

  // ok: let's write them back
  for ( int ix = 0; ix < text.size(); ++ix )
     cout << text[ ix ] << ' ';

The standard library defines both input and output iostream iterator classes, called istream_iterator and ostream_iterator, that provide a shorthand method of reading and writing elements of a single type. To use either iterator class, we must include the iterator header file:

#include <iterator>

For example, let's see how we can use the istream_iterator class to read our string sequence from standard input. As with all iterators, we need a first,last pair of istream_iterators that mark the range of elements. The definition

istream_iterator<string> is( cin );

provides us with a first iterator. It defines is as an istream_iterator bound to standard input that reads elements of type string. We also need a last iterator that represents 1 past the last element to be read. For standard input, end-of-file represents 1 past the last element to be read. How do we indicate that? The definition of an istream_iterator without an istream object, such as eof,

istream_iterator<string> eof;

represents end-of-file. How do we actually use this pair? In the following example, we pass them to the generic algorithm copy(), together with the vector to store the string elements. Because we don't know what size to make the vector, we adapt it with a back_inserter:

  copy( is, eof, back_inserter( text ));

Now we need an ostream_iterator to mark where to write each string element. We stop when there are no more elements to write out. The following defines os to be an ostream_iterator tied to standard output that holds elements of type string:

ostream_iterator<string> os( cout, " " );

The second argument is either a C-style character string or a string literal that indicates the delimiter to output between the elements. By default, the elements are written without any delimiter between them. In this example, I've chosen to output each element separated by a space. Here is how we might use it:

copy( text.begin(), text.end(), os );

copy() writes each element stored within text to the ostream indicated by os. Each element is separated by a space. Here is the complete program:

#include <iostream>
#include <iterator>
#include <algorithm>
#include <vector>
#include <string>
using namespace std;

int main()
  istream_iterator< string > is( cin );
  istream_iterator< string > eof;

  vector< string > text;
  copy( is, eof, back_inserter( text ));

  sort( text.begin(), text.end() );

  ostream_iterator<string> os( cout, " " );
  copy( text.begin(), text.end(), os );

Often, rather than read from standard input or write to standard output, we read from and write to a file. How can we do that? We simply bind the istream_iterator to an ifstream class object and the ostream_iterator to an ofstream class object:

#include <iostream>
#include <fstream>
#include <iterator>
#include <algorithm>
#include <vector>
#include <string>
using namespace std;

int main()
  ifstream in_file( "as_you_like_it.txt" );
  ofstream out_file( "as_you_like_it_sorted.txt" );

  if ( ! in_file || ! out_file ) 
    cerr << "!!unable to open the necessary files.\n";
    return -1;

  istream_iterator< string > is( in_file );
  istream_iterator< string > eof;

  vector< string > text;
  copy( is, eof, back_inserter( text ));

  sort( text.begin(), text.end() );

  ostream_iterator<string> os( out_file, " " );
  copy( text.begin(), text.end(), os );I

Exercise 1

Write a program to read a text file. Store each word in a map. The key value of the map is the count of the number of times the word appears in the text. Define a word exclusion set containing words such as a, an, or, the, and, and but. Before entering a word in the map, make sure that it is not present in the word exclusion set. Display the list of words and their associated count when the reading of the text is complete. As an extension, before displaying the text, allow the user to query the text for the presence of a word.

Exercise 2

Read in a text file—it can be the same one as in Exercise 1— storing it in a vector. Sort the vector by the length of the string. Define a function object to pass to sort(); it should accept two strings and return true if the first string is shorter than the second. Print the sorted vector.

Exercise 3

Define a map for which the index is the family surname and the key is a vector of the children's names. Populate the map with at least six entries. Test it by supporting user queries based on a surname and printing all the map entries.

Exercise 4

Write a program to read a sequence of integer numbers from standard input using an istream_iterator. Write the odd numbers into one file using an ostream_iterator. Each value should be separated by a space. Write the even numbers into a second file, also using an ostream_iterator. Each of these values should be placed on a separate line.

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