Generic Programming is a programming paradigm for developing
efficient, reusable software libraries. Pioneered
by Alexander
Stepanov and David
Musser, Generic Programming obtained its first major success when
the Standard
Template Library became part of
the ANSI/ISO C++
standard. Since then, the Generic Programming paradigm has been
used to develop many generic
libraries.

The Generic Programming process focuses on finding commonality
among similar implementations of the same algorithm, then providing
suitable abstractions so that a single, generic algorithm can cover
many concrete implementations. This process, called lifting, is repeated until the generic algorithm has
reached a suitable level of abstraction, where it provides maximal
reusability while still yielding efficient, concrete
implementations. The abstractions themselves are expressed as
requirements on the parameters to the generic algorithm.

Once many algorithms within a given problem domain have been
lifted, we start to see patterns among the requirements. It is common
for the same set of requirements to be required by several different
algorithms. When this occurs, each set of requirements is bundled
into a concept. Concepts describe a set of
abstractions, each of which meets all of the requirements of a
concept. When the Generic Programming process is carefully followed,
the concepts that emerge tend to describe the abstractions within the
problem domain in some logical way. A study of graph algorithms will
produce Graph concepts that describe the behavior of graphs,
whereas a study of linear algebra algorithms will
produce Matrix and Vector concepts. Thus, the
output of the Generic Programming process is not just a generic,
reusable implementation, but a better understanding of the problem
domain.

ConceptGCC 4.3.0 alpha 6

ConceptGCC 4.3.0 alpha 6 is now available!

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Concepts talk is available online

Doug Gregor’s introductory concepts talk is now available on Google Video

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Talk: Concepts at OOPSLA

Doug Gregor will be presenting the paper Concepts: Linguistic Support for Generic Programming in C++ at OOPSLA in Portland, Oregon.

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