# Detecting if 2 Iterators point to the same thing?

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Basically, I have a situation where I have 2 containers of the same type, and I want to iterate through them and know when I've reached an element that was previously selected by being pointed at by an iterator.

I tried simply using == but that caused a crash. It's also possible of course that I did it wrong.

How is this meant to be done? Or should it be avoided if possible?

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It would be very helpful if you could post a small program that shows what you tried.

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iterators from two different containers will never be equal. If you dereference them you can compare the actual values of the objects in the two containers. Maybe that's what you want? Don't dereference an iterator equal to yourContainer.end() though.

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If you dereference them you can compare the actual values of the objects in the two containers. Maybe that's what you want? Don't dereference an iterator equal to yourContainer.end() though.

I thought along those lines... but then a problem I envisioned is that it's possible for the objects to be perfectly equal in value, therefore you'd need to know if they were different actual instances of such objects, and then we're probably back at square one...

Basically, it's for a system for moving items between 2 inventories. So Inventory A might have 200 of Item X and that might be selected, but Inventory B could also have 200 of Item X... so it's very important that it refers to the exact instances involved.

It would be very helpful if you could post a small program that shows what you tried.

I'll try to cut out the relevant bits that hopefully show enough to get the idea across without getting into anything irrelevant...

- I have an Inventory class which represents the inventory of, for example, a player.

This contains a map consisting of a pair representing the item name and its condition as an int, and another int as the value of the map which represents the quantity:

std::map< std::pair< std::string, int >, int > itemStock;


- This stock container can be accessed like so:

const std::map< std::pair< std::string, int >, int >& getStock();


- I have an iterator to remember the currently selected item for the purposes of a user interface:

std::map< std::pair< std::string, int >, int >::const_iterator selInvItem;

- What I tried then as I iterated through an inventory's stock container, was the following:

for( std::map< std::pair< std::string, int >, int >::const_iterator it = stock.begin(); it != stock.end(); it++ )
{
if( selInvItem == it )
{
//Found the currently selected item
}
}

But it crashes with "Expression: map/set iterators incompatible".

Have I missed something?

I stepped through it withe breakpoints and the iterator I was using (selInvItem) didn't seem to be getting initialized for some reason... at least it was showing up as 0... but either way I have it so "it" is being compared with another iterator that shows up like it should when I step through the program and it still gives the same error.

Is comparing iterators that point to different containers just not a thing you do?

Edited by Sean_Seanston

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If you want to know if two iterators point to the same thing, you need to compare the thing they point to, not the iterators themselves.

Comparing iterators from two different containers is undefined behavior.

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Is comparing iterators that point to different containers just not a thing you do?

It is not a thing you do (like I said before).

but then a problem I envisioned is that it's possible for the objects to be perfectly equal in value, therefore you'd need to know if they were different actual instances of such objects, and then we're probably back at square one...

If comparing objects by value is not acceptable, and you're storing objects by value (which you are) in two separate containers, then what you're asking is impossible. By definition the "same" object will be two different instances - they can't be the same, they occupy different spaces in memory. One is a copy of the other.

You either need to be comparing pointers, or give the objects some unique id and compare by value using that unique id (so two copies of the same object will compare as equal).

And taking a pointer to one of the objects in your containers limits your options. If you add or remove anything to the container, the pointer (and similarly any iterator from that container) may now be invalid.

I assuming the data structures you're using right now is because you want to treat items of a certain type and of a certain condition as the same right? Like, if you buy 4 brand new bolts of cloth, you want it to be merged with the player's existing x bolts of brand new cloth? The data structures you have now don't allow for multiple instances of an item of a particular condition in one container.

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