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C++ Boost

Bundled Properties

Class templates adjacency_list and adjacency_matrix support the introduction of named properties via internal properties. However, this method is cumbersome in many uses, where it would be more intuitive to just specify a structure or class that contains internal properties for edges or vertices. Bundled properties allow one to use adjacency_list and adjacency_matrix in this manner, providing a simple way to introduce and access any number of internal properties for vertices and edges.

One can introduce bundled properties into an either graph type by providing a user-defined class type for the VertexProperties or EdgeProperties template arguments. The user-defined class may alternatively be placed at the end of a property list, replacing the (implicit) boost::no_property argument.

Example: Route planning

Consider the implementation of a simple route planner that should find the shortest directions from one city to another via a set of highways. The vertices of the graph are cities, and we may wish to store several bits of information about the city within each vertex:

struct City
  string name;
  int population;
  vector<int> zipcodes;

The edges in the graph represent highways, which also have several interesting attributes:

struct Highway
  string name;
  double miles;
  int speed_limit;
  int lanes;
  bool divided;

Without bundled properties, translating this example directly into an instantiation of adjacency_list would involve several custom properties and would result in a type like this:

typedef boost::adjacency_list<
    boost::listS, boost::vecS, boost::bidirectionalS,
    // Vertex properties
    boost::property<boost::vertex_name_t, std::string, 
    boost::property<population_t, int,
    boost::property<zipcodes_t, std::vector<int> > > >,
    // Edge properties
    boost::property<boost::edge_name_t, std::string,
    boost::property<boost::edge_length_t, double,
    boost::property<edge_speed_limit_t, int,
    boost::property<edge_lanes_t, int,
    boost::property<edge_divided, bool> > > > > >

With bundled properties, we can directly use the City and Highway structures:

typedef boost::adjacency_list<
    boost::listS, boost::vecS, boost::bidirectionalS,
    City, Highway> Map;

Accessing bundled properties

To access a bundled property for a particular edge or vertex, subscript your graph with the descriptor of the edge or vertex whose bundled property you wish to access. For instance:

Map map; // load the map
Map::vertex_descriptor v = *vertices(map).first;
map[v].name = "Troy";
map[v].population = 49170;
Map::edge_descriptor e = *out_edges(v, map).first;
map[e].name = "I-87";
map[e].miles = 10;
map[e].speed_limit = 65;
map[e].lanes = 4;
map[e].divided = true;

Properties maps from bundled properties

Often one needs to create a property map from an internal property for use in a generic algorithm. For instance, using the graph without bundled properties we might invoke Dijkstra's shortest paths algorithm like this:

vector<double> distances(num_vertices(map));
dijkstra_shortest_paths(map, from,
      weight_map(get(edge_length, map))
                                               get(vertex_index, map))));

With bundled properties, we can just pass a member pointer as the property for get. The equivalent example using bundled properties is:

vector<double> distances(num_vertices(map));
dijkstra_shortest_paths(map, from,
      weight_map(get(&Highway::miles, map))
                                               get(vertex_index, map))));

The type of the returned property map is property_map<Map, int Highway::*>::type or property_map<Map, int Highway::*>::const_type, depending on whether the graph map is non-constant or constant.

You may also access the entire vertex or edge bundle as a property map using the vertex_bundle or edge_bundle properties, respectively. For instance, the property map returned by get(vertex_bundle, map) is an Lvalue Property Map providing access to the City values stored in each vertex.


Bundled properties will only work properly on compilers that support class template partial specialization.

Copyright © 2004 Doug Gregor.
Last modified: Fri May 7 10:56:01 EDT 2004