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C++ Standard Template Library

The C++ STL (Standard Template Library) is a generic collection of class templates and algorithms that allow programmers to easily implement standard data structures like queues, lists and stacks.

STL Containers

The C++ STL provides two kinds of containers:

In addition, the C++ standard library provides several non-STL containers.
They can be considered containers, but don't meet all the requirements of STL containers.

The idea behind the C++ STL is that the hard part of using complex data structures has already been completed. If a programmer would like to use a stack of integers, all one has to do is use this code:

  stack<int> myStack;

With minimal effort, one can now push and pop integers onto this stack. Through the magic of C++ Templates, one could specify any data type, not just integers. The STL Stack class will provide generic functionality of a stack, regardless of the data in the stack.


In addition, the STL also provides a bunch of useful algorithms – such as binary_search, sort, and for_each – that can be used on a variety of containers or data structures.


C++ Iterators provide a generic way of iterating over the STL containers or other data structures.

Function Objects

The <functional> header file defines function objects and function adapters.


The <memory> header file provides simple memory management structures like auto_ptr.


There are several generic utility methods like make_pair in the <utility> header file.

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