Smart Pointer Example: Smart Pointer in C ++

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A smart pointer is the same as a normal pointer, but it provides the safety of use through automatic memory management. Such a pointer helps to avoid a lot of problems: “hanging” pointers, “leaks” of memory and failures in memory allocation. A smart pointer counts the number of references to a specified object.

At first glance, this task seems to be quite difficult, especially if you are not an expert in C ++. One useful approach to decision is to divide the problem into two parts:

  1. describe the general approach and to create a pseudo-code
  2. write detailed code

We need a reference counter variable, which will increase as soon as we add a new reference, and decrease when we remove it. Our pseudo-code might look like this:

template <class T>
class SmartPointer {
     / * Smart pointer class needs a pointer to
      * itself and the reference counter. Both must be pointers, not real
      * objects or values of the reference counter, as the purpose of the smart
      * pointer is in counting the number of references through a set of smart
      * pointers to one object * /
     T * obj;
     unsigned * ref_count;
}
For this class, we need a constructor and destructor, so let’s describe them:
SmartPointer (T * object) {
     / * We want to set the value of T * obj and set the reference 
counter to 1  *  /
}
 
SmartPointer (SmartPointer <T> & sptr) {
     / * This constructor creates a new smart pointer to an existing
      * object. We need to first set obj and ref_count
      * same as in sptr. Then, we need to increase ref_count. 
      * because we have created a new reference to obj * /
}
 
~ SmartPointer (SmartPointer <T> sptr) {
     / * Destroy an object reference. Decreasing
      * Ref_count. If ref_count = 0, delete the dedicated memory and
      * Destroy the object. * /
}

There is an additional way to generate references – by setting one SmartPointer to point another. We need to redefine the operator “=” to handle the case, but first let’s make a sketch of the code:

onSetEqals (SmartPointer <T> ptr1, SmartPointer <T> ptr2) {
     / * If ptr1 has an existing value, reduce its number of references.
     * Then copy the pointer obj and ref_count. Finally, we need to increase
     * Ref_count. because we have created a new link * /
}
It remains only to write the code, and it is a matter of technique:
template <class T>
class SmartPointer {
public:
    SmartPointer (T * ptr) {
        ref = ptr;
        ref_count = (unsigned *) malloc (sizeof (unsigned));
        * Ref_count = 1;
    }
 
    SmartPointer (SmartPointer <T> & sptr) {
        ref = sptr.ref;
        ref_count = sptr.ref_count;
        ++ (* Ref_count);
    }
 
    / * Overwrits the equality operator, so when you set
     * One smart pointer to another, the number of old pointer references
     * is reduced and a new one increased.
     * /
    SmartPointer <T> & operator = (SmartPointer <T> & sptr) {
        / * If it’s already assigned to the object, remove one reference. * /
        if (* ref_count> 0) {
            remove ();
        }
        if (this! = & sptr) {
            ref = sptr.ref;
            ref_count = sptr.ref_count;
            ++ (* Ref_count);
        }
        return * this;
    }
 
    ~ SmartPointer () {
        remove (); // Delete a reference to the object.
    }
 
    T operator * () {
        return * ref;
    }
 
    protected:
    void remove () {
        - (* Ref_count);
        if (ref_count == 0) {
            delete ref;
            free (ref_count);
            ref = NULL;
            ref_count = NULL;
        }
    }
 
    T * ref;
    unsigned * ref_count;
}

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