The type-dependent type or value that is independent of the type

Raymond Chen


Some time ago, we saw how to create a type-dependent expression that is always false. I noted that it feels weird creating a whole new type just to create a fixed false value.

But maybe we can make it more useful by generalizing it.

template<typename T, typename...>
using unconditional_t = T;

template<typename T, T v, typename...>
inline constexpr T unconditional_v = v;

The unconditional_t alias template always represents the type T, and the unconditional_v variable template always represents the value v.

template<typename Whatever>
void f()
  // X is always int
  using X = unconditional_t<int, Whatever>;

  // v is always 42
  auto v = unconditional_v<int, 42, Whatever>;

Even though the resulting type or value is always the same, it is nevertheless a dependent type, and therefore the evaluation does not occur until template instantiation.

We can use this to solve our “cannot static_assert(false) in a discarded statement” problem:

auto lambda = [total](auto op, auto value) mutable
  using Op = decltype(op);
  if constexpr (std::is_same_v<Op, add_tax_t>) {
   total += total * value; // value is the tax rate
   return total;
  } else if constexpr (std::is_same_v<Op, apply_discount_t>) {
   total -= std::max(value, total); // value is the discount
   return total;
  } else {
   static_assert(unconditional_v<Op, bool, false>,
                "Don't know what you are asking me to do.");

The unconditional_t generalizes the alias template std::void_t<...>: Whereas std::void_t<...> always evaluates to void, the unconditional_t lets you pick the type that it resolves to.

template<typename... Types>
using void_t = unconditional_t<void, Types...>;

The unconditional_t also generalizes the template class std::type_identity<T>: Whereas std::type_identity<T> takes only one template type parameter, the unconditional_t lets you pass extra parameters, which are evaluated (for SFINAE) but otherwise ignored.

template<typename T>
using type_identity = unconditional_t<T>;



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  • Avatar
    Samuel Harrington

    Hm, unless I’m missing something, I think this line:

    static_assert(unconditional_v<Op, bool, false>

    should be:

    static_assert(unconditional_v<bool, false, Op>

    That is, the unused type should be at the end of the template arguments.

  • Avatar
    PNP Tube

    Well Spotted @samlhsamlh

    100% agree,

    static_assert(unconditional_v<Op, bool, false>

    should be:

    static_assert(unconditional_v<bool, false, Op>

    however, overall excellent and helpful submission – thanks for your valuable and consistent additions to te devblogs @oldnewthing (Raymond Chen)