An Interesting Blog Post

Vec, Array, Slice: Review

  • Arrays, Vecs and slices can only contain sized objects of a single type. They are accessed by computing a fixed offset using the usual index calculation

  • An "array" has a type that includes its size. It is an object, not a reference: stored on the stack sometimes, so watch out

  • A Vec is a fat pointer to a chunk of heap; the Vec includes the length of the pointed-to chunk. Vecs can be grown or shrunk

  • A slice is also a fat pointer with length, but points to an arbitrary chunk of memory. It can thus not be resized, and has a borrow of the memory it points to

  • You can make a slice from a Vec or array by &, because they implement Deref. (Also &mut, because DerefMut.) Note that a cast may be necessary in some contexts, because a reference to an array or slice is also a legitimate thing


Vec, Array, Slice: Methods

  • Vec makes a good stack. Use the push, pop and is_empty methods

  • The Vec retain and dedup methods are pretty handy. The book describes the non-sorted dedup trick

  • The split and join methods are used a lot in practice. chunks and windows are really handy in a lot of kinds of analysis

  • Sorting and searching have straightforward methods. Having binary_search built-in is a fantastic idea, as this is a common source of bugs in other languages

  • Lexicographic comparison of these is supported

VecDeque, LinkedList

  • VecDeque is a circular queue stored in a Vec. Because it uses stop and start pointers, there will always be at least one dead cell. Normally insert with push_back(), remove with pop_front(), but the queue is double-ended

  • LinkedList is a doubly-linked list. Don't use it unless you have to: its memory performance is terrible and it's pretty error-prone. As of Rust 1.26, its API is still sparse


  • A max-heap, which is annoying. Not a keyed heap: no way to mess with an element in the middle

  • I've used successfully, but it's still not a keyed heap

HashMap, HashSet, BTreeMap, BTreeSet

  • Sets are just maps with () for content. Since () is a zero-sized type, this works fine

  • Hash variants are open hash tables. Lots of extra storage (but arguably not enough). Cost of hashing, bad memory locality. Still, "constant-time" access

  • BTree variants are, well, B-trees. Storage-efficient, better memory locality, but require a tree traversal

  • BTree variants can be nested because they are Ord. Hash variants cannot

  • Ownership and mutability matter here. A map owns its keys and values: there is no way to mutate the key in-place

  • The Entry interface avoids some extra lookups by getting a key-value pair that can be modified or inserted. It's an enum that depends on whether the entry currently is in the map. Normally, you will use the many methods provided for manipulating entries: this is classic combinator-chain stuff

  • Sets include the usual set operators with infix equivalents. is_subset() is not defined as infix <=


  • It's a complicated mess. The default hasher is a compromise between security and performance

  • You can specify your own hasher, but this is rarely desirable

Third-Party Containers

  • Some stuff on is actually a pretty accepted part of the Rust ecosystem

  • This is problematic: hard to tell the "really standard" stuff from the good stuff from the bad stuff

  • Worth looking at a few common crates

  • We have already seen crossbeam and complex at the start of this course


  • Crate for random number generation and use


  • Split into crates for generation and processing

  • Produces both pseudo-random and (if possible) hardware-random numbers

  • Key entry point is rand::thread_rng(), which gives a per-thread OK-secure PRNG seeded from hardware

  • You want the gen_range(*lower*, *upper*) method normally, for uniform random numbers in a range. This requires the rand::Rng trait



  • Several crates for serializing and deserializing data: converting between Rust data structures and some kind of input/output format

  • Huge variety of serialization formats supported


Last modified: Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 5:53 PM