387.std::complex over-encapsulated

Section: 28.4 [complex.numbers] Status: CD1 Submitter: Gabriel Dos Reis Opened: 2002-11-08 Last modified: 2016-01-28 10:19:27 UTC

Priority: Not Prioritized

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View all issues with CD1 status.

Discussion:

The absence of explicit description of std::complex<T> layout makes it imposible to reuse existing software developed in traditional languages like Fortran or C with unambigous and commonly accepted layout assumptions. There ought to be a way for practitioners to predict with confidence the layout of std::complex<T> whenever T is a numerical datatype. The absence of ways to access individual parts of a std::complex<T> object as lvalues unduly promotes severe pessimizations. For example, the only way to change, independently, the real and imaginary parts is to write something like

```complex<T> z;
// ...
// set the real part to r
z = complex<T>(r, z.imag());
// ...
// set the imaginary part to i
z = complex<T>(z.real(), i);
```

At this point, it seems appropriate to recall that a complex number is, in effect, just a pair of numbers with no particular invariant to maintain. Existing practice in numerical computations has it that a complex number datatype is usually represented by Cartesian coordinates. Therefore the over-encapsulation put in the specification of std::complex<> is not justified.

Proposed resolution:

Add the following requirements to 28.4 [complex.numbers] as 26.3/4:

If z is an lvalue expression of type cv std::complex<T> then

• the expression reinterpret_cast<cv T(&)[2]>(z) is well-formed; and
• reinterpret_cast<cv T(&)[2]>(z)[0] designates the real part of z; and
• reinterpret_cast<cv T(&)[2]>(z)[1] designates the imaginary part of z.

Moreover, if a is an expression of pointer type cv complex<T>* and the expression a[i] is well-defined for an integer expression i then:

• reinterpret_cast<cv T*>(a)[2*i] designates the real part of a[i]; and
• reinterpret_cast<cv T*>(a)[2*i+1] designates the imaginary part of a[i].

In 28.4.3 [complex] and [complex.special] add the following member functions (changing T to concrete types as appropriate for the specializations).

```void real(T);
void imag(T);
```

```T real() const;
```

Returns: the value of the real component

```void real(T val);
```

Assigns val to the real component.

```T imag() const;
```

Returns: the value of the imaginary component

```void imag(T val);
```

Assigns val to the imaginary component.

[Kona: The layout guarantee is absolutely necessary for C compatibility. However, there was disagreement about the other part of this proposal: retrieving elements of the complex number as lvalues. An alternative: continue to have real() and imag() return rvalues, but add set_real() and set_imag(). Straw poll: return lvalues - 2, add setter functions - 5. Related issue: do we want reinterpret_cast as the interface for converting a complex to an array of two reals, or do we want to provide a more explicit way of doing it? Howard will try to resolve this issue for the next meeting.]

[pre-Sydney: Howard summarized the options in n1589.]

[ Bellevue: ]

Second half of proposed wording replaced and moved to Ready.

[ Pre-Sophia Antipolis, Howard adds: ]