How do I find an element position in std::vector?


I need to find an element position in an std::vector to use it for referencing an element in another vector:

int find( const vector<type>& where, int searchParameter )
    for( int i = 0; i < where.size(); i++ ) {
       if( conditionMet( where[i], searchParameter ) ) {
           return i;
    return -1;
// caller:
const int position = find( firstVector, parameter );
if( position != -1 ) {
    doAction( secondVector[position] );

however vector::size() returns size_t which corresponds to an unsigned integral type that can't directly store -1. How do I signal that the element is not found in a vector when using size_t instead of int as an index?

9/19/2016 8:03:55 PM

Accepted Answer

You could use std::numeric_limits<size_t>::max() for elements that was not found. It is a valid value, but it is impossible to create container with such max index. If std::vector has size equal to std::numeric_limits<size_t>::max(), then maximum allowed index will be (std::numeric_limits<size_t>::max()-1), since elements counted from 0.

9/15/2009 7:39:17 AM

Take a look at the answers provided for this question: Invalid value for size_t?. Also you can use std::find_if with std::distance to get the index.

std::vector<type>::iterator iter = std::find_if(vec.begin(), vec.end(), comparisonFunc);
size_t index = std::distance(vec.begin(), iter);
if(index == vec.size()) 

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