 

Category: algorithms   Component type: function 
Prototype
Set_difference
is an overloaded name; there are actually two set_difference
functions.
template <class InputIterator1, class InputIterator2, class OutputIterator>
OutputIterator set_difference(InputIterator1 first1, InputIterator1 last1,
InputIterator2 first2, InputIterator2 last2,
OutputIterator result);
template <class InputIterator1, class InputIterator2, class OutputIterator,
class StrictWeakOrdering>
OutputIterator set_difference(InputIterator1 first1, InputIterator1 last1,
InputIterator2 first2, InputIterator2 last2,
OutputIterator result,
StrictWeakOrdering comp);
Description
Set_difference
constructs a sorted range that is the set difference of the sorted ranges [first1, last1)
and [first2, last2)
. The return value is the end of the output range.
In the simplest case, set_difference
performs the "difference" operation from set theory: the output range contains a copy of every element that is contained in [first1, last1)
and not contained in [first2, last2)
. The general case is more complicated, because the input ranges may contain duplicate elements. The generalization is that if a value appears m
times in [first1, last1)
and n
times in [first2, last2)
(where m
or n
may be zero), then it appears max(mn, 0)
times in the output range. [1] Set_difference
is stable, meaning both that elements are copied from the first range rather than the second, and that the relative order of elements in the output range is the same as in the first input range.
The two versions of set_difference
differ in how they define whether one element is less than another. The first version compares objects using operator<
, and the second compares objects using a functors comp
.
Definition
Defined in the standard header algorithm, and in the nonstandard backwardcompatibility header algo.h.
Requirements on types
For the first version:

InputIterator1
is a model of InputIterator.

InputIterator2
is a model of InputIterator.

OutputIterator
is a model of OutputIterator.

InputIterator1
and InputIterator2
have the same value type.

InputIterator
's value type is a model of LessThanComparable.

The ordering on objects of
InputIterator1
's value type is a strict weak ordering, as defined in the LessThanComparable requirements.

InputIterator
's value type is convertible to a type in OutputIterator
's set of value types.
For the second version:

InputIterator1
is a model of InputIterator.

InputIterator2
is a model of InputIterator.

OutputIterator
is a model of OutputIterator.

StrictWeakOrdering
is a model of StrictWeakOrdering.

InputIterator1
and InputIterator2
have the same value type.

InputIterator1
's value type is convertible to StrictWeakOrdering
's argument type.

InputIterator
's value type is convertible to a type in OutputIterator
's set of value types.
Preconditions
For the first version:

[first1, last1)
is a valid range.

[first2, last2)
is a valid range.

[first1, last1)
is ordered in ascending order according to operator<
. That is, for every pair of iterators i
and j
in [first1, last1)
such that i
precedes j
, *j < *i
is false
.

[first2, last2)
is ordered in ascending order according to operator<
. That is, for every pair of iterators i
and j
in [first2, last2)
such that i
precedes j
, *j < *i
is false
.

There is enough space to hold all of the elements being copied. More formally, the requirement is that
[result, result + n)
is a valid range, where n
is the number of elements in the difference of the two input ranges.

[first1, last1)
and [result, result + n)
do not overlap.

[first2, last2)
and [result, result + n)
do not overlap.
For the second version:

[first1, last1)
is a valid range.

[first2, last2)
is a valid range.

[first1, last1)
is ordered in ascending order according to comp
. That is, for every pair of iterators i
and j
in [first1, last1)
such that i
precedes j
, comp(*j, *i)
is false
.

[first2, last2)
is ordered in ascending order according to comp
. That is, for every pair of iterators i
and j
in [first2, last2)
such that i
precedes j
, comp(*j, *i)
is false
.

There is enough space to hold all of the elements being copied. More formally, the requirement is that
[result, result + n)
is a valid range, where n
is the number of elements in the difference of the two input ranges.

[first1, last1)
and [result, result + n)
do not overlap.

[first2, last2)
and [result, result + n)
do not overlap.
Complexity
Linear. Zero comparisons if either [first1, last1)
or [first2, last2)
is empty, otherwise at most 2 * ((last1  first1) + (last2  first2))  1
comparisons.
Example
inline bool lt_nocase(char c1, char c2) { return tolower(c1) < tolower(c2); }
int main()
{
int A1[] = {1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11};
int A2[] = {1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13};
char A3[] = {'a', 'b', 'b', 'B', 'B', 'f', 'g', 'h', 'H'};
char A4[] = {'A', 'B', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'F', 'F', 'H' };
const int N1 = sizeof(A1) / sizeof(int);
const int N2 = sizeof(A2) / sizeof(int);
const int N3 = sizeof(A3);
const int N4 = sizeof(A4);
cout << "Difference of A1 and A2: ";
set_difference(A1, A1 + N1, A2, A2 + N2,
ostream_iterator<int>(cout, " "));
cout << endl
<< "Difference of A3 and A4: ";
set_difference(A3, A3 + N3, A4, A4 + N4,
ostream_iterator<char>(cout, " "),
lt_nocase);
cout << endl;
}
The output is
Difference of A1 and A2: 7 9 11
Difference of A3 and A4: B B g H
Notes
[1] Even this is not a completely precise description, because the ordering by which the input ranges are sorted is permitted to be a strict weak ordering that is not a total ordering: there might be values x
and y
that are equivalent (that is, neither x < y
nor y < x
) but not equal. See the LessThanComparable requirements for a fuller discussion. The output range consists of those elements from [first1, last1)
for which equivalent elements do not exist in [first2, last2)
. Specifically, if the range [first1, last1)
contains m
elements that are equivalent to each other and the range [first2, last2)
contains n
elements from that equivalence class (where either m
or n
may be zero), then the output range contains the last max(m  n, 0)
of these elements from [first1, last1)
. Note that this precision is only important if elements can be equivalent but not equal. If you're using a total ordering (if you're using strcmp
, for example, or if you're using ordinary arithmetic comparison on integers), then you can ignore this technical distinction: for a total ordering, equality and equivalence are the same.
See also
includes
, set_union
, set_intersection
, set_symmetric_difference
, sort