Lab 4 — Generic Containers solution


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Experiment with various methods for creating containers that can hold multiple types of data within
the same program.
Method 1 — Unions
So far, you have seen a class — a collection of data and the code that manipulates the data. You
may have also seen a struct, which is just the collection of data without the code.
A union is similar to a struct. The difference is, while a struct can hold many values inside of itself
simultaneously, a union can only hold one value at a time. Consider the following struct:
1 struct {
2 int foo;
3 double bar;
4 };
This struct can hold an integer foo value and a double-precision value bar simultaneously.
Now, consider the following union:
1 union {
2 int foo;
3 double bar;
4 };
This can hold either foo or bar, but not both simultaneously. The struct has enough space to hold
both — 12 bytes on most systems — while the union only has enough space for the largest of its
items — the double, which is 8 bytes.
To try this method out, you will need to modify the following files:
• simpleStack.h
First, modify simpleStack.h, replacing the typedef line with the following:
1 union UItem {
2 int iVal;
3 double dVal;
4 };
6 typedef union UItem StackType;
Data Structures and Objects Lab 4 Generic Containers
This defines the union and creates an alias StackType; the compiler will replace all occurrences of
StackType with union UItem.
In, create a single StackType variable; add
1 StackType digit;
as a local variable inside main( ). Replace the push( ) call with
1 digit.iVal = d;
2 myStack.push(digit);
Finally, replace the pop( ) and cout lines with
1 digit = myStack.pop();
2 cout << digit.iVal << endl; Compile and with one g++ command; no Makefile is necessary here. Test the program; it should read a number and output the digits one at a time in the proper order. Method 2 — Zen containers “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” — Messiah’s Handbook, from Richard Bach’s Illusions Another method for containing multiple data types is to create a container that stores no data type. Some containers, such as stacks, queues and linear lists, do not place any special restrictions on the type of data stored within them. In fact, these containers completely ignore the data type, other than to use it to determine how many bytes to move into or out of the container. If that is the case, then it is possible to devise a container where no type is specified; only the number of bytes to move is given. I call this type of approach a “zen” data structure, as it has a distinctly zen flavor to it: we can store any kind of data, since we specify no kind of data. Note that some containers require some kind of data comparability; for example, dictionaries require at least the ability to compare two keys to see if they are the same, and binary search trees require the ability to compare two keys for equality and less or greater than. Zen data structures can be adapted to work with these (cf the qsort( ) function) at the expense of complicating the code. From the user’s perspective, zen data structures differ from other structures in two main ways: • When initializing the container, the number of bytes to move must be given. • Adding to and removing from the container require pointers to data be passed. To try this out, you will work with the following files: • zenStack.h • • — same as 2 of ?? Data Structures and Objects Lab 4 Generic Containers In, change the stack declaration to 1 ZenStack myStack(sizeof(int)); This determines the number of bytes in an integer, and then tells the zen stack to move that many bytes with each push( ) and pop( ). Next, change the push( ) call to 1 myStack.push(&d); Finally, change the pop( ) line to 1 myStack.pop(&d); Compile and with one g++ command. The resulting executable should work exactly as the first one did. Method 3 — Multiple classes A third method is to create a separate class for each type of data the container needs to store. Although we could actually write out multiple classes, there is a simpler way to accomplish this — the template. With a template, a placeholder is used in the class definition wherever the data type is needed. When a template container object is declared, the actual data type is specified. The compiler then makes a behind-the-scenes copy of the template class, with the placeholder replaced with the actual data type. One drawback of this approach is that all code must be placed inside the class. Non-template containers are usually split into an interface file holding the class definition and animplementation file holding the code for the class methods. Since the compiler needs all of the class information in order to make copies, the code must be part of the template. To try this method out, you will work with the following files: • stack.h, which is simpleStack.h and combined into one file •, which is the same as the other two test files In stack.h, remove the typedef line, and add the following line immediately above the class line: 1 template