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A pair is a 2-tuple of data elements or objects


The pair template is defined in the standard header <utility> and in the nonstandard backward-compatibility header <pair.h>.

#include <utility>
namespace std {
     template < class T, class U >
     struct pair {
         T1 first;
         T2 second;
         // constructors


Pair <T1,T2> is a heterogeneous pair: it holds one object of type T1 and one of type T2. A pair is not actually a model of Container, though, because it does not support the standard methods (such as iterators) for accessing the elements of a Container.

The STL pair can be assigned, copied and compared. The array of objects allocated in a map or hash_map are of type pair by default, where all the "first" elements, T1 act as the unique keys, each associated with their 'second' value objects, T2.

Short example:
pair<string, int> pr1; // declare a pair variable
pair<string, int> pr2("John", 7); // declare and initialize with constructor

Pair Comparisons

When comparing two pairs, the C++ standard library provides the usual comparison operators. Two value pairs are equal if both values are equal:

namespace std {
       template < class T1, class T2 >
       bool operator== (const pair<T1,T2>& x, const pair<T1,T2>& y)
           return x.first == y.first && x.second == y.second;

In a comparison of pairs, the first value has higher priority. If the first values of two pairs differ, the result of their comparison is used as the result of the comparison of the whole pairs. If the first values are equal, the comparison of the second values yields the result:

namespace std {
       template < class T1, class T2 >
       bool operator< (const pair<T1,T2>& x, const pair<T1,T2>& y) {
           return x.first < y.first ||
                  (!(y.first < x.first) && x.second < y.second);
The other comparison operators are defined accordingly.

Convenience Function

The make_pair() template function allows you to create a value pair without writing the types explicitly.

namespace std{
template < class T1,class T2 >
  pair<T1,T2> make_pair (T1 x, T2 y)
    return (pair<T1,T2>(x,y));

Short example:
// by using \c{make_pair()} you can write
std::make_pair(10, 'D')
// instead of
std::pair<int,char>(10, 'D')



Example - pair template
This example of program illustrates how to use pair template and make_pair function.
#include <iostream>
#include <utility>
#include <string>
using namespace std;
int main ()
  pair <string,double> product1 ("tomatoes",3.25);
  pair <string,double> product2;
  pair <string,double> product3;
  product2.first = "lightbulbs";     // type of first is string
  product2.second = 0.99;            // type of second is double
  product3 = make_pair ("shoes",20.0);
  cout <<"The price of "<<product1.first<<" is "<<product1.second<<" dollars."<<"\n";
  cout <<"The price of "<<product2.first<<" is "<<product2.second <<" dollars."<<"\n";
  cout <<"The price of "<<product3.first<<" is "<<product3.second<<" dollars."<<"\n";
  return 0;

The price of tomatoes is 3.25 dollars.
The price of lightbulbs is 0.99 dollars.
The price of shoes is 20 dollars.

For more examples using pairs see the examples in Map, Multimap, Set and Multiset.