Most functional programming languages (e.g. Common Lisp, Scheme / Racket, Clojure, Haskell, Scala, Ocaml, SML) support some common higher-order functions on lists, such as map, filter, takeWhile, dropWhile, foldl, foldr (see e.g. Common Lisp, Scheme / Racket, Clojure side-by-side reference sheet, the Haskell, Scala, OCaml, and the SML documentation.)

Does C++11 have equivalent standard methods or functions on lists? For example, consider the following Haskell snippet:

let xs = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
let ys = map (\x -> x * x) xs

How can I express the second expression in modern standard C++?

std::list<int> xs = ... // Initialize the list in some way.
std::list<int> ys = ??? // How to translate the Haskell expression?

What about the other higher-order functions mentioned above?
Can they be directly expressed in C++?

  • Yes, but they operate on more general concepts than that specific implementation of a doubly linked list. As do Python's operations in this area. I much prefer that to being tied to a specific data structure. Ever tried to do these operations on, say, a Data.Sequence in Haskell? It's comparatively ugly.
    – user7043
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:17
  • "It's comparatively ugly.": Compared to what?
    – Giorgio
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:19
  • Compared to the same operation on [a]. You either have to hide the prelude function, hack around prelude, or choose a different and less intuitive name.
    – user7043
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:21
  • Maybe you are right, but the topic of this question is how to express common list higher-order functions in C++, not how to implement analogous functions on Data.Sequence in Haskell.
    – Giorgio
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:23
  • 1
    @delnan I would argue that Haskell is much more general in its approach. Functor, Foldable, and Traversable achieve this in as abstract a way as I can think. Data.Sequence is an instance of all of these, so you can just do fmap (\x -> x * x) xs. map is fmap specialized for beginners.
    – Alec
    Jul 23, 2015 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


Even more, C++ have such functions, take a look to algorithm (or with C++11 additions) header:


They can be easily used with any container.

For example your code can be expressed like this (with C++11 lambdas for easy coding):

std::vector<int> x = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5};
std::vector<int> y;
std::transform(x.begin(), x.end(), std::back_inserter(y), [](int elem){ return elem * elem; });

Less intuitive, but you can easily wrap the std::transform call into function which would return new container (with move semantics for better perfomance).

  • Thanks. I'd like to simplify some code I wrote a few days ago and this could really help make it much shorter. Just one small question: why do you need to pass x.begin() and x.end()? Wouldn't be sufficient to just pass the vector x?
    – Giorgio
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:40
  • std::transform takes two iterators, so, you can take a slice of a container (remember that you have iterators arithmetics).
    – m0nhawk
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:47
  • So you have two operations in one: taking a slice, and applying a transformation.
    – Giorgio
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:48
  • Formerly you have two iterators and applying transform to elements between them. Iterators not a common in functional programming.
    – m0nhawk
    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:49
  • 2
    I haven't met such libraries, in C++ the iterator-based algorithm much useful. You can make a wrapper of, in your case, std::transform like: Y<U> map(T<U>, std::function<Y(U)>).
    – m0nhawk
    Nov 21, 2012 at 11:44

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