Fix Python – Equivalent C++ to Python generator pattern


Asked By – Noah Watkins

I’ve got some example Python code that I need to mimic in C++. I do not require any specific solution (such as co-routine based yield solutions, although they would be acceptable answers as well), I simply need to reproduce the semantics in some manner.


This is a basic sequence generator, clearly too large to store a materialized version.

def pair_sequence():
    for i in range(2**32):
        for j in range(2**32):
            yield (i, j)

The goal is to maintain two instances of the sequence above, and iterate over them in semi-lockstep, but in chunks. In the example below the first_pass uses the sequence of pairs to initialize the buffer, and the second_pass regenerates the same exact sequence and processes the buffer again.

def run():
    seq1 = pair_sequence()
    seq2 = pair_sequence()

    buffer = [0] * 1000
    first_pass(seq1, buffer)
    second_pass(seq2, buffer)
    ... repeat ...


The only thing I can find for a solution in C++ is to mimic yield with C++ coroutines, but I haven’t found any good reference on how to do this. I’m also interested in alternative (non general) solutions for this problem. I do not have enough memory budget to keep a copy of the sequence between passes.

Now we will see solution for issue: Equivalent C++ to Python generator pattern


Generators exist in C++, just under another name: Input Iterators. For example, reading from std::cin is similar to having a generator of char.

You simply need to understand what a generator does:

  • there is a blob of data: the local variables define a state
  • there is an init method
  • there is a “next” method
  • there is a way to signal termination

In your trivial example, it’s easy enough. Conceptually:

struct State { unsigned i, j; };

State make();

void next(State&);

bool isDone(State const&);

Of course, we wrap this as a proper class:

class PairSequence:
    // (implicit aliases)
    public std::iterator<
        std::pair<unsigned, unsigned>
  // C++03
  typedef void (PairSequence::*BoolLike)();
  void non_comparable();
  // C++11 (explicit aliases)
  using iterator_category = std::input_iterator_tag;
  using value_type = std::pair<unsigned, unsigned>;
  using reference = value_type const&;
  using pointer = value_type const*;
  using difference_type = ptrdiff_t;

  // C++03 (explicit aliases)
  typedef std::input_iterator_tag iterator_category;
  typedef std::pair<unsigned, unsigned> value_type;
  typedef value_type const& reference;
  typedef value_type const* pointer;
  typedef ptrdiff_t difference_type;

  PairSequence(): done(false) {}

  // C++11
  explicit operator bool() const { return !done; }

  // C++03
  // Safe Bool idiom
  operator BoolLike() const {
    return done ? 0 : &PairSequence::non_comparable;

  reference operator*() const { return ij; }
  pointer operator->() const { return &ij; }

  PairSequence& operator++() {
    static unsigned const Max = std::numeric_limts<unsigned>::max();


    if (ij.second != Max) { ++ij.second; return *this; }
    if (ij.first != Max) { ij.second = 0; ++ij.first; return *this; }

    done = true;
    return *this;

  PairSequence operator++(int) {
    PairSequence const tmp(*this);
    return tmp;

  bool done;
  value_type ij;

So hum yeah… might be that C++ is a tad more verbose 🙂

This question is answered By – Matthieu M.

This answer is collected from stackoverflow and reviewed by FixPython community admins, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0