Mundane std::tuple tricks: Selecting via an index sequence, part 2

Raymond Chen


Last time, we developed the select_tuple function which takes a tuple and an index sequence and produces a new tuple that selects the elements based on the index sequence. Here’s what we had:

// Don't use this; see discussion.
template<typename Tuple, std::size_t... Ints>
auto select_tuple(Tuple&& tuple, std::index_sequence<Ints...>)
 return std::make_tuple(

The idea is that you can do something like

std::tuple<int, char, float> t{ 1, 'x', 2.0 };
auto t2 = select_tuple(t, std::index_sequence<0, 2>{});

and the result is that t2 is a std::tuple<int, float>{ 1, 2.0 }.

But there’s a problem with this function.

Here’s a riddle: When does std::make_tuple<T>() return something that isn’t a std::tuple<T>?

std::make_tuple<T>Produces std::tuple<T>
int   int
const int   
std::reference_wrapper<      int  >int&
std::reference_wrapper<const int  >
std::reference_wrapper<      int& >
std::reference_wrapper<      int&&>

Answer: When T is subject to decay or decays to a reference_wrapper.

Decay is a term in the C++ standard that refers to the changes of type that typically occur when something is passed by value to a function:

  • References decay to the underlying type.
  • cv-qualifiers (const and volatile) are removed.
  • Arrays decay to pointers.
  • Function decay to function pointers.

But make_tuple adds an additional wrinkle: If the decayed type is a reference_wrapper, then the result is the underlying reference.

We don’t want any of these transformations to occur. If you select a type from a tuple that is a reference, then you want the resulting tuple to have the same reference type.

So we can’t use make_tuple. We’ll specify the desired tuple type explicitly.

template<typename Tuple, std::size_t... Ints>
auto select_tuple(Tuple&& tuple, std::index_sequence<Ints...>)
 return std::tuple<std::tuple_element_t<Ints, Tuple>...>(

or alternatively

template<typename Tuple, std::size_t... Ints>
std::tuple<std::tuple_element_t<Ints, Tuple>...>
select_tuple(Tuple&& tuple, std::index_sequence<Ints...>)
 return { std::get<Ints>(std::forward<Tuple>(tuple))... };

Okay, now that we have this helper function, we can do a bunch of fancy tuple manipulation.

Which we’ll do next time.


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