10.5. Vector size

There are a few functions you can invoke on an vector. One of them is very useful, though: size. Not surprisingly, it returns the size of the vector (the number of elements).

It is a good idea to use this value as the upper bound of a loop, rather than a constant. That way, if the size of the vector changes, you won’t have to go through the program changing all the loops; they will work correctly for any size vector.

int i;
for (i = 0; i < count.size(); i++) {
  cout << count[i] << endl;


On some machines, comparing an int to the output from size will generate a type error. This is because the size function returns an unsigned integer type. To keep the variable type consistent, you should use size_t rather than int for the type of iterator i.

The last time the body of the loop gets executed, the value of i is count.size() - 1, which is the index of the last element. When i is equal to count.size(), the condition fails and the body is not executed, which is a good thing, since it would cause a run-time error. One thing that we should notice here is that the size() function is called every time the loop is executed. Calling a function again and again reduces execution speed, so it would be better to store the size in some variable by calling the size function before the loop begins, and use this variable to check for the last element.

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