Re: [eigen] Why do const accessors return by value?

[ Thread Index | Date Index | More Archives ]

2009/3/31 Patrick Mihelich <patrick.mihelich@xxxxxxxxx>:
> Hi again,
> Currently all of the MatrixBase const accessor functions return const
> Scalar, while the non-const version return (of course) Scalar&. Is there a
> rationale for returning by value in the const versions instead of const
> Scalar&?

Yes, in fact we have simply no choice. A MatrixBase may be any
expression. As soon as an expression represents a nontrivial
computation (like a sum of two matrices) there is no way that coeff()
could return a reference : a reference to what? the result isn't
stored permanently in memory.

> I don't like this inconsistent behavior. Sometimes I want to get a
> pointer to a chunk of memory in a Matrix so I can pass it to some low-level
> function, like foo( &mat(r, c) ).

Above you were talking about MatrixBase; now with Matrix it's
different, indeed the coefficients do exist in memory, and if you look
at the Matrix class, the coeff() methods do return const references,
exactly like you want!

If you have a MatrixBase that happens to be a Matrix, you can always
use the derived() method to get the matrix:

void foo(const MatrixBase& m)
    float *ptr = &(m.derived().coeff(i,j));

in fact derived() just casts 'this' to a Matrix pointer, and indirects.

> This breaks when mat is a const type like
> const Matrix&. I can also imagine wanting to use Eigen matrices with types
> that are not trivially cheap to copy (arbitrary precision types, for
> example), when returning by value may result in an unwanted copy.

That's another issue. But the above-mentioned fact that xpressions
have no choice but to return by value, is unavoidable. So I think that
the best solution then, is that the "heavy numeric types" in question
be endowed with a copy-on-write mechanism so that these copies become
shallow copies.


Mail converted by MHonArc 2.6.19+