To get a trial key
fill out the form below
Team License (a basic version)
Enterprise License (an extended version)
* By clicking this button you agree to our Privacy Policy statement

Request our prices
New License
License Renewal
--Select currency--
USD
EUR
GBP
RUB
* By clicking this button you agree to our Privacy Policy statement

Free PVS-Studio license for Microsoft MVP specialists
* By clicking this button you agree to our Privacy Policy statement

To get the licence for your open-source project, please fill out this form
* By clicking this button you agree to our Privacy Policy statement

I am interested to try it on the platforms:
* By clicking this button you agree to our Privacy Policy statement

Message submitted.

Your message has been sent. We will email you at


If you haven't received our response, please do the following:
check your Spam/Junk folder and click the "Not Spam" button for our message.
This way, you won't miss messages from our team in the future.

>
>
>
Move semantics

Move semantics

Sep 17 2021

Move semantics is a set of semantic rules and tools of the C++ language. It was designed to move objects, whose lifetime expires, instead of copying them. The data is transferred from one object to another. In most cases, the data transfer does not move this data physically in memory. It helps to avoid expensive copying.

Move semantics was introduced in the C++11 standard. To implement it, rvalue references, move constructors, and the move assignment operator were added. Also, some functions were added to the standard template library (STL) to support move semantics. For example, std::move and std::forward.

Uses of move semantics

Let's say you need to write a Swap template function that accepts two objects of the same type and swaps them. The function may be implemented as follows:

template <typename T>
void Swap(T &lhs, T &rhs)
{
  T t = lhs;
  lhs = rhs;
  rhs = t;
}

Everything seems great – the function can work with two objects of the same type and swap them. However, such implementation has a significant drawback. Let's take a look at the following code fragment:

std::vector<int> arrA(1'000'000, 0);
std::vector<int> arrB(1'000'000, 1);
Swap(arrA, arrB);

Two objects of the std::vector<int> type are created. Each contains 1'000'000 elements. Then the Swap function swaps them. The std::vector class template contains a non-trivial copy constructor that has the following functions:

  • performs dynamic memory allocation to the desired number of elements;
  • makes a deep copy of the elements from the passed std::vector.

As a result, we have 3'000'000 copies of int type objects. The situation may get even worse if std::vector is instantiated by a non-trivially copied type.

Move semantics helps to get rid of unnecessary copying. To use it, we need to convert an object to an rvalue reverence. Thus, we tell the compiler that it can move the object.

#include <type_traits>

template <typename T>
void Swap(T &lhs, T &rhs) noexcept
{
  using rvalue_ref = typename std::remove_reference<T>::type &&;
  T t = static_cast<rvalue_ref>(lhs);
  lhs = static_cast<rvalue_ref>(rhs);
  rhs = static_cast<rvalue_ref>(t);
}

In case of std::vector, its non-trivial constructor/move operator swaps pointers to dynamic memory, thus eliminating expensive memory allocation and elements copying.

To simplify the process of coding when moving objects, the std::move function was introduced into the standard library. This function casts the object passed to it to an rvalue reference:

#include <utility>

template <typename T>
void Swap(T &lhs, T &rhs) noexcept
{
  T t = std::move(lhs);
  lhs = std::move(rhs);
  rhs = std::move(t);
}
Popular related articles
The way static analyzers fight against false positives, and why they do it

Date: Mar 20 2017

Author: Andrey Karpov

In my previous article I wrote that I don't like the approach of evaluating the efficiency of static analyzers with the help of synthetic tests. In that article, I give the example of a code fragment…
PVS-Studio for Java

Date: Jan 17 2019

Author: Andrey Karpov

In the seventh version of the PVS-Studio static analyzer, we added support of the Java language. It's time for a brief story of how we've started making support of the Java language, how far we've co…
Free PVS-Studio for those who develops open source projects

Date: Dec 22 2018

Author: Andrey Karpov

On the New 2019 year's eve, a PVS-Studio team decided to make a nice gift for all contributors of open-source projects hosted on GitHub, GitLab or Bitbucket. They are given free usage of PVS-Studio s…
Static analysis as part of the development process in Unreal Engine

Date: Jun 27 2017

Author: Andrey Karpov

Unreal Engine continues to develop as new code is added and previously written code is changed. What is the inevitable consequence of ongoing development in a project? The emergence of new bugs in th…
The Last Line Effect

Date: May 31 2014

Author: Andrey Karpov

I have studied many errors caused by the use of the Copy-Paste method, and can assure you that programmers most often tend to make mistakes in the last fragment of a homogeneous code block. I have ne…
How PVS-Studio Proved to Be More Attentive Than Three and a Half Programmers

Date: Oct 22 2018

Author: Andrey Karpov

Just like other static analyzers, PVS-Studio often produces false positives. What you are about to read is a short story where I'll tell you how PVS-Studio proved, just one more time, to be more atte…
Characteristics of PVS-Studio Analyzer by the Example of EFL Core Libraries, 10-15% of False Positives

Date: Jul 31 2017

Author: Andrey Karpov

After I wrote quite a big article about the analysis of the Tizen OS code, I received a large number of questions concerning the percentage of false positives and the density of errors (how many erro…
Technologies used in the PVS-Studio code analyzer for finding bugs and potential vulnerabilities

Date: Nov 21 2018

Author: Andrey Karpov

A brief description of technologies used in the PVS-Studio tool, which let us effectively detect a large number of error patterns and potential vulnerabilities. The article describes the implementati…
Appreciate Static Code Analysis!

Date: Oct 16 2017

Author: Andrey Karpov

I am really astonished by the capabilities of static code analysis even though I am one of the developers of PVS-Studio analyzer myself. The tool surprised me the other day as it turned out to be sma…
PVS-Studio ROI

Date: Jan 30 2019

Author: Andrey Karpov

Occasionally, we're asked a question, what monetary value the company will receive from using PVS-Studio. We decided to draw up a response in the form of an article and provide tables, which will sho…

Comments (0)

Next comments
This website uses cookies and other technology to provide you a more personalized experience. By continuing the view of our web-pages you accept the terms of using these files. If you don't want your personal data to be processed, please, leave this site.
Learn More →
Accept