C++ named requirements: Swappable

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C++ named requirements

Any lvalue or rvalue of this type can be swapped with any lvalue or rvalue of some other type, using unqualified function call swap() in the context where both std::swap and the user-defined swap()s are visible.


Type U is swappable with type T if, for any object u of type U and any object t of type T,

Expression Requirements Semantics
#include <utility>

using std::swap;
swap(u, t);

After the call, the value of t is the value held by u before the call, and the value of u is the value held by t before the call. Calls the function named swap() found by overload resolution among all functions with that name that are found by argument-dependent lookup and the two std::swap templates defined in the header <utility>.
#include <utility>

using std::swap;
swap(t, u);

same same

Many standard library functions (for example, many algorithms) expect their arguments to satisfy Swappable, which means that any time the standard library performs a swap, it uses the equivalent of using std::swap; swap(t, u);.

Typical implementations either

1) Define a non-member swap in the enclosing namespace, which may forward to a member swap if access to non-public data members is required
2) Define a friend function in-class (this approach hides the class-specific swap from name lookup other than ADL)


It is unspecified whether <utility> is actually included when the standard library functions perform the swap, so the user-provided swap() should not expect it to be included.


#include <iostream>
#include <vector>
class IntVector {
    std::vector<int> v;
    IntVector& operator=(IntVector) = delete; // not assignable
    void swap(IntVector& other) {
void swap(IntVector& v1, IntVector& v2) {
int main()
    IntVector v1, v2;
//  std::swap(v1, v2); // compiler error! std::swap requires MoveAssignable
    std::iter_swap(&v1, &v2); // OK: library calls unqualified swap()

See also

checks if objects of a type can be swapped with objects of same or different type
(class template)