I needed to pass a const reference to part of a std::vector without copy. I posted the previous version in my earlier question, thank you for the great support! As far as I know this version supports not only std::vectors but any kind of iterator based continuous containers!

Some research, particularly this SO question, suggested that it is not something supported by default(at least in pre-c++20 std), so I created my own code for it:

#include <iterator>
#include <vector>

template <typename Iterator = std::vector<double>::const_iterator>
class ConstVectorSubrange{
  using T = typename Iterator::value_type;

  ConstVectorSubrange(Iterator start_, std::size_t size_)
  : start(start_)
  , range_size(size_)
  { }

  ConstVectorSubrange(Iterator begin_, Iterator end_)
  : start(begin_)
  , range_size(std::distance(start, end_))
  { }

  const T& operator[](std::size_t index) const{
    assert(index < range_size);
    return *std::next(start, index);
  const T& front() const{
    return *begin();
  const T& back() const{
    return *std::next(end(), -1);
  std::size_t size() const{
    return range_size;
  Iterator begin() const{
    return start;
  Iterator end() const{
    return std::next(start, range_size);

  const Iterator start;
  const std::size_t range_size;

In C++20 the functionality is available in std::span, so I am trying to achieve this with c++17 latest. Target for my code is c++11, but c++17 features are also present in the project I am using this in. I'm not sure I would go up to c++20 as I'm still not sure how widespread it is yet, but I'm still open to it.

An example of using this would be a member function where not the whole array is visible, although copies are to be avoided:

#include <vector>

class BigData{
  std::vector<int> big_array = vector<int>(10000);

  ConstVectorSubrange get_last_five_thousand_elements(){
    return{(big_array.end()-5000), big_array.end()};


How can this code be improved? I tried to remove the dependent typename, but I could only do that with C++20 std::iter_reference_t. Is there no other way to deduce T explicitly?


1 Answer 1


With C++17 the compiler should be able to deduce the template type automatically by using the following:

template <typename Iterator>
class ConstVectorSubrange {
    using T = typename Iterator::value_type;
    // ...

int main() 
    std::vector v{ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 };
    ConstVectorSubrange range(v.begin() + 2, v.end() - 2);

I'm not sure why you have included <iterator> and failed to include <cassert>?


I like that you can now use the foreach loop:

std::vector v{ 7, 7, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9 };
ConstVectorSubrange vsr(v.begin() + 4, v.end());
for (int i : vsr)
    std::cout << i << "\n";

And all the cool stuff from <algorithm>

std::cout << std::count(vsr.begin(), vsr.end(), 7) << "\n";


It would be pretty cool if you could include a step or stride to have a slice of the vector. Something like this:

std::vector v{ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 };
std::size_t step = 2;
ConstVectorSubrange r(v.begin() + 1, v.end(), step);
for (int i : r)
    std::cout << i << "\n";
// expected results 2, 4, 6
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ <assert.h> is not a C++ header. You probably mean <cassert>. \$\endgroup\$
    – indi
    Nov 27, 2021 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @indi thanks, updated. \$\endgroup\$
    – jdt
    Nov 27, 2021 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much! :) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 28, 2021 at 13:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidTóth, cool! You got so close that I almost feel like I should have added a spoiler alert ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – jdt
    Nov 28, 2021 at 14:06

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