C++ Parsing files


Parsing files into STL containers

istream_iterators are very useful for reading sequences of numbers or other parsable data into STL containers without explicit loops in the code.

Using explicit container size:

std::vector<int> v(100);
std::copy(std::istream_iterator<int>(ifs), std::istream_iterator<int>(),

or with inserting iterator:

std::vector<int> v;
std::copy(std::istream_iterator<int>(ifs), std::istream_iterator<int>(),

Note that the numbers in the input file may be divided by any number of any whitespace characters and newlines.

Parsing heterogeneous text tables

As istream::operator>> reads text until a whitespace symbol, it may be used in while condition to parse complex data tables. For example, if we have a file with two real numbers followed by a string (without spaces) on each line:

1.12 3.14 foo
2.1 2.2 barr

it may be parsed like this:

std::string s;
double a, b;
while(ifs >> a >> b >> s) {
    std::cout << a << " " << b << " " << s << std::endl;


Any range-manipulating function may be used with std::istream_iterator ranges. One of them is std::transform, which allows to process data on-the-fly. For example, let's read integer values, multiply them by 3.14 and store the result into floating-point container:

std::vector<double> v(100);
std::transform(std::istream_iterator<int>(ifs), std::istream_iterator<int>(),
[](int val) {
    return val * 3.14;