< cpp‎ | memory
Dynamic memory management
Smart pointers
(until C++17)
Memory resources
Uninitialized storage
Uninitialized memory algorithms
Constrained uninitialized memory algorithms
Garbage collection support
(C++11)(until C++23)
(C++11)(until C++23)
(C++11)(until C++23)
(C++11)(until C++23)
(C++11)(until C++23)
(C++11)(until C++23)
Low level memory management
Member functions
Defined in header <memory>
template< class Ptr >
struct pointer_traits;
(1) (since C++11)
template< class T >
struct pointer_traits<T*>;
(2) (since C++11)

The pointer_traits class template provides the standardized way to access certain properties of pointer-like types (fancy pointers, such as boost::interprocess::offset_ptr). The standard template std::allocator_traits relies on pointer_traits to determine the defaults for various typedefs required by Allocator.

1) The non-specialized pointer_traits conditionally declares the following members:

Let /*element-type-of*/<Ptr> be

  • Ptr::element_type if present;
  • otherwise, T if Ptr is a class template specialization Template<T, Args...>, where Args... is zero or more type arguments;
  • otherwise, not defined.

If /*element-type-of*/<Ptr> is not defined, the primary template has no members specified in this page.


[edit] Member types

Type Definition
pointer Ptr
element_type /*element-type-of*/<Ptr>
difference_type Ptr::difference_type if present, otherwise std::ptrdiff_t

[edit] Member alias templates

Template Definition
template <class U> using rebind Ptr::rebind<U> if exists, otherwise Template<U, Args...> if Ptr is a template specialization Template<T, Args...>

[edit] Member functions

obtains a dereferenceable pointer to its argument
(public static member function) [edit]
2) A specialization is provided for pointer types, T*, which declares the following members:

[edit] Member types

Type Definition
pointer T*
element_type T
difference_type std::ptrdiff_t

[edit] Member alias templates

Template Definition
template< class U > using rebind U*

[edit] Member functions

obtains a dereferenceable pointer to its argument
(public static member function) [edit]

[edit] Optional member functions of program-defined specializations

[static] (C++20)(optional)
obtains a raw pointer from a fancy pointer (inverse of pointer_to)
(public static member function) [edit]

[edit] Notes

The rebind member template alias makes it possible, given a pointer-like type that points to T, to obtain the same pointer-like type that points to U. For example,

using another_pointer = std::pointer_traits<std::shared_ptr<int>>::rebind<double>;
static_assert(std::is_same<another_pointer, std::shared_ptr<double>>::value);

A specialization for user-defined fancy pointer types may provide an additional static member function to_address to customize the behavior of std::to_address.

(since C++20)
Feature-test macro Value Std Comment
__cpp_lib_constexpr_memory 201811L (C++20) Constexpr in std::pointer_traits

[edit] Example

#include <memory>
#include <iostream>
template <class Ptr>
struct BlockList
    // Predefine a memory block
    struct block;
    // Define a pointer to a memory block from the kind of pointer Ptr s
    // If Ptr is any kind of T*, block_ptr_t is block*
    // If Ptr is smart_ptr<T>, block_ptr_t is smart_ptr<block>
    using block_ptr_t = typename std::pointer_traits<Ptr>::template rebind<block>;
    struct block
        std::size_t size{};
        block_ptr_t next_block{};
    block_ptr_t free_blocks;
int main()
    BlockList<int*> bl1;
    // The type of bl1.free_blocks is BlockList<int*>:: block*
    BlockList<std::shared_ptr<char>> bl2;
    // The type of bl2.free_blocks is
    // std::shared_ptr< BlockList<std::shared_ptr<char> >::block>
    std::cout << bl2.free_blocks.use_count() << '\n';



[edit] Defect reports

The following behavior-changing defect reports were applied retroactively to previously published C++ standards.

DR Applied to Behavior as published Correct behavior
LWG 3545 C++11 primary template caused hard error when element_type is invalid made SFINAE-friendly

[edit] See also

provides information about allocator types
(class template) [edit]
obtains actual address of an object, even if the & operator is overloaded
(function template) [edit]