How to use find algorithm with a vector of pointers to objects in c++?


I want to find in a vector of Object pointers for a matching object. Here's a sample code to illustrate my problem:

class A {
    A(string a):_a(a) {}
    bool operator==(const A& p) {
        return p._a == _a; 

    string _a;

vector<A*> va;

va.push_back(new A("one"));
va.push_back(new A("two"));
va.push_back(new A("three"));

find(va.begin(), va.end(), new A("two"));

I want to find the second item pushed into the vector. But since vector is defined as a pointers collection, C++ does not use my overloaded operator, but uses implicit pointer comparison. What is the preferred C++-way of solutiono in this situation?

11/3/2008 3:25:13 PM

Accepted Answer

Use find_if with a functor:

template <typename T>
struct pointer_values_equal
    const T* to_find;

    bool operator()(const T* other) const
        return *to_find == *other;

// usage:
void test(const vector<A*>& va)
    A* to_find = new A("two");
    pointer_values_equal<A> eq = { to_find };
    find_if(va.begin(), va.end(), eq);
    // don't forget to delete A!

Note: your operator== for A ought to be const, or, better still, write it as a non-member friend function.

11/3/2008 3:45:18 PM

Either use std::find_if and provide a suitable predicate yourself, see other answers for an example of this.

Or as an alternative have a look at boost::ptr_vector, which provides transparent reference access to elements which are really stored as pointers (as an extra bonus, memory management is handled for you as well)

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