This section describes terminology specific to Intel® Threading Building Blocks (Intel® TBB).


A concept is a set of requirements on a type. The requirements may be syntactic or semantic. For example, the concept of “sortable” could be defined as a set of requirements that enable an array to be sorted. A type T would be sortable if:

  • x < y returns a boolean value, and represents a total order on items of type T.

  • swap(x,y) swaps items x and y

You can write a sorting template function in C++ that sorts an array of any type that is sortable.

Two approaches for defining concepts are valid expressions and pseudo-signatures. The ISO C++ standard follows the valid expressions approach, which shows what the usage pattern looks like for a concept. It has the drawback of relegating important details to notational conventions. This document uses pseudo-signatures, because they are concise, and can be cut-and-pasted for an initial implementation.

For example, the table below shows pseudo-signatures for a sortable type T:

Pseudo-Signatures for Example Concept “sortable”



bool operator<(const T& x, const T& y)

Compare x and y.

void swap(T& x, T& y)

Swap x and y.

A real signature may differ from the pseudo-signature that it implements in ways where implicit conversions would deal with the difference. For an example type U, the real signature that implements operator< in the table above can be expressed as int operator<( U x, U y ), because C++ permits implicit conversion from int to bool, and implicit conversion from U to (const U&). Similarly, the real signature bool operator<( U& x, U& y ) is acceptable because C++ permits implicit addition of a const qualifier to a reference type.


A type models a concept if it meets the requirements of the concept. For example, type int models the sortable concept in the above table if there exists a function swap(x,y) that swaps two int values x and y. The other requirement for sortable, specifically x<y, is already met by the built-in operator< on type int.


The library sometimes requires that a type model the CopyConstructible concept, which is defined by the ISO C++ standard. The table below shows the requirements for CopyConstructible in pseudo-signature form.

CopyConstructible Requirements



T( const T& )

Construct copy of const T.



T* operator&()

Take address.

const T* operator&() const

Take address of const T.

Last Updated: 
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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