Posted by Benjamin Close on November 13, 2008 under Programming | 3 Comments to Read

Working with Mark’s dnl code, we came across an interesting issue. Mark had used the stl::set class for some of his code and whilst it compiled fine under Visual Studio, it failed to compile under gcc/g++. With the error:

dnlCommon/Logger.cpp: In member function 'void dnlCommon::Logger::setMask(std::ostream&, std::bitset<5ul>)':
dnlCommon/Logger.cpp:64: error: invalid initialization of reference of type 'dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair&' from expression of type 'const dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair'
/usr/local/lib/gcc-4.0.4/include/c++/bits/stl_algo.h: In function '_OutputIterator std::remove_copy(_InputIterator, _InputIterator, _OutputIterator, const _Tp&) [with _InputIterator = std::_Rb_tree_const_iterator<dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair>, _OutputIterator = std::_Rb_tree_const_iterator<dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair>, _Tp = dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair]':
/usr/local/lib/gcc-4.0.4/include/c++/bits/stl_algo.h:1112:   instantiated from '_ForwardIterator std::remove(_ForwardIterator, _ForwardIterator, const _Tp&) [with _ForwardIterator = std::_Rb_tree_const_iterator<dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair>, _Tp = dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair]'
dnlCommon/Logger.cpp:54:   instantiated from here
/usr/local/lib/gcc-4.0.4/include/c++/bits/stl_algo.h:1037: error: passing 'const dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair' as 'this' argument of 'dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair& dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair::operator=(const dnlCommon::Logger::LoggerPair&)' discards qualifiers

It turned out that the issue occurred with the assignment operator (operator = ) on the stl::set class. Tracing the problem we found that set<TYPE>::iterator is const rather than non cost. Hence calling stl functions that made use of the iterators but also the assignment operator would fail.

Looking further into the problem I found:

      // DR 103. set::iterator is required to be modifiable,
      // but this allows modification of keys.
      typedef typename _Rep_type::const_iterator iterator;
      typedef typename _Rep_type::const_iterator const_iterator;

Hmm, that’s strange. A bit of googling revieled the problem to be an issue with the stl standard. Fixes to gcc/g++ are listed at in particular error 103 is listed at
So it looks like the bug was ratified by the C++ committee in 1998 and it still isn’t fixed in Visual Studio 2005 (VC++ 8.0) !

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  • Leigh McCulloch said,

    If I’m using a compiler that uses an old version that has this bug in it, is there anything I can do in my own code to get around it?


  • Benjamin Close said,

    Hi Leigh,
    As far as I can tell, if your using VC things work as intended using the operator which should be const. However if you intend to port your code to later versions of VC++ or gcc you’ll need to fix the code – there’s no work around. The correct fix is not to use the operator = in this case. Instead use an operator in the class intended to set the values.

  • Leigh McCulloch said,

    Mmm. I’m not sure I can do what I’m trying to do.

    I’m using a remove_if to remove items in the set that meet certain requirements. But the remove_if is actually doing the operator=. I think I’ll just convert the code to use a vector instead, or I’ll do the remove_if manually with a loop.

    Let me know if you have any other suggestions.


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