A class that is used to traverse through the objects maintained by a container class. There are five categories of iterators:
ÃƒËœ input iterators,
ÃƒËœ output iterators,
ÃƒËœ forward iterators,
ÃƒËœ bidirectional iterators,
ÃƒËœ random access.
An iterator is an entity that gives access to the contents of a container object without violating encapsulation constraints. Access to the contents is granted on a one-at-a-time basis in order. The order can be storage order (as in lists and queues) or some arbitrary order (as in array indices) or according to some ordering relation (as in an ordered binary tree). The iterator is a construct, which provides an interface that, when called, yields either the next element in the container, or some value denoting the fact that there are no more elements to examine. Iterators hide the details of access to and update of the elements of a container class.
The simplest and safest iterators are those that permit read-only access to the contents of a container class. The following code fragment shows how an iterator might appear in code:
while x/=none do
In this example, cont_iter is the name of the iterator. It is created on the first line by instantiation of cont_iterator class, an iterator class defined to iterate over some container class, cont. Succesive elements from the container are carried to x. The loop terminates when x is bound to some empty value. (Here, none)In the middle of the loop, there is s(x) an operation on x, the current element from the container. The next element of the container is obtained at the bottom of the loop.
Shashi Kant Ray