The Standard Library from Scratch [2018 class archive]

“The Standard Library from Scratch” is a two-day training course with programming exercises taught by Arthur O’Dwyer. It is offered at the Meydenbauer Conference Center from 9AM to 5PM on Saturday and Sunday, September 29th and 30th, 2018 (immediately following the conference). Lunch is included.

Course Description

Join Arthur O’Dwyer on a deep dive into the innards of the standard library. We’ll implement a significant fraction of the standard library in two days, by building high-level components on top of lower-level ones. As we go, we’ll touch on just about every aspect of modern C++ programming, including value semantics, exception safety, the C++11 multi-threaded memory model, and several “standard” API design patterns.

This course is ideal for anyone who worries about the potentially hidden performance costs of “modern C++”, anyone who needs to implement a bulletproof C++ API in the style of the standard library, or for anyone who enjoys digging deep into the internals of complex systems.


Students are expected to have a good working knowledge of C++11. A working knowledge of classes, virtual functions, templates, exception-handling, C++11 lambdas, and move semantics will be assumed. Knowledge of C++14 or template metaprogramming is not required. The class will include short exercises presented via the online compiler at Please bring a computer with a Web browser and/or a C++14 compiler installed.

Course Topics

  • C++17 lambdas from the ground up; as contrasted with std::function
  • Classical polymorphism: virtual functions, vtables and vpointers
  • Type erasure: std::function, std::packaged_task, and std::any
  • Small object optimization in std::string and std::function
  • The iterator hierarchy: implementing container iterators and iterator adaptors
  • Allocators and what it means to be “allocator-aware”
  • Comparators, std::less, and heterogeneous perfect forwarding
  • Hashing and std::hash
  • Specializing behavior via SFINAE and tag dispatch: vector<bool> and future<T&>
  • Complex metaprogramming: std::tuple and tuple_cat, std::variant and visit
  • libcxxabi exception handling and std::exception_ptr
  • std::atomic, std::mutex, std::condition_variable, and std::call_once
  • Promises and futures from scratch
  • Why certain functions are noexcept and others aren’t
  • What it means for special member functions to be implicitly defined, defaulted, deleted, and/or trivial

Course Instructor


Arthur O’Dwyer is the author of Mastering the C++17 STL (2017). He organizes a weekly C++ meetup in San Francisco and speaks regularly on C++ topics.