std::weak_ptr phrasebook

ALWAYS need to compare with raw ptr + shared_ptr, to understand the usage context, motivations and justifications

http://www.stroustrup.com/C++11FAQ.html#std-weak_ptr is concise.

— Based on the chapter in [[effModernC++]]:

#1 feature — detect dangle

  • use case — a subject that keeps track of its observers who might become dangling pointers
  • use case — objects A and B pointing to each other with ref count … leading to island. Using raw pointers exclusively is possible but requires explicit deletion, as pointed out on P 84 [[Josuttis]]
  • In both use cases, Raw ptr won’t work since dangle becomes unnoticed.
  • Achilles’ heel of the #1 feature — manual “delete” on the raw ptr is beneath the radar of reference counting, and leads to chaos and subversion of ownership control, as illustrated —
#include <iostream>
#include <memory>
using namespace std;

void f1(){
  auto p = new int(55);
  shared_ptr<int> sp(p);
  weak_ptr<int> wp(sp);

  cout<<"expired()? "<<wp.expired()<<endl; // false
  cout<<"deleting from down below\n";
  delete p; // sp.reset();
  cout<<"expired()? "<<wp.expired()<<endl; // still false!
  // at end of this function, shared_ptr would double-delete as the manual delete 
// is beneath the radar of reference counting:(
}
int main(){
  f1();
}
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