2.7. Analysis of String Operators

Prior to C++11 the string class was not required to store its character elements contiguously. Now string acts much like the vector class, except for some string optimizations and other minor differences.

Since C++11 strings use contiguous storage locations in an underlying (typically larger) array just like vectors do. The character elements in strings can be accessed and traversed with the help of iterators, and they can also be accessed randomly using indexes.

Like vectors, strings have a dynamic size meaning that whenever a new character is inserted or deleted, their size changes automatically. Just like vectors, new elements can be inserted into or deleted from any part of a string, and automatic reallocation for other existing items in the string is applied.

Indexing and assigning a new character to an index position that already exists both take \(O(1)\), the same amount of time no matter how large the string is.

Now that we have seen how performance can be measured concretely you can look at Table 3 to see the Big-O efficiency of all the basic string operations and you will see a striking resemblance to vectors because the implementations are so similar.

Table 3: Big-O Efficiency of C++ String Operations

Operation

Big-O Efficiency

index []

O(1)

index assignment =

O(1)

push_back()

typically O(1)

pop_back()

O(1)

erase(i)

O(n)

insert(i, item)

O(n)

find(srt, stp, item)

O(log n) or O(n)

reserve()

O(n)

begin()

O(1)

end()

O(1)

size() O(1)

Just like vectors, the push_back() operation is \(O(1)\) unless there is inadequate capacity, in which case the entire string is moved to a larger contiguous underlying array, which is \(O(n)\).

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