Document #: | P3310R4 |

Date: | 2024-10-15 |

Project: | Programming Language C++ |

Audience: |
Evolution Working Group Core Working Group |

Reply-to: |
Matheus Izvekov <mizvekov@gmail.com> |

This paper aims to address some lingering issues introduced with the adoption of P0522R0 into C++17, later made a defect report, which relaxed the rules on how templates are matched to template template parameters, but didn’t concern itself with how partial ordering and overload resolution would be affected.

As a result, it invalidated several perfectly legitimate prior uses, creating compatibility issues with old code, forcing implementors to amend the rules, and overall slowing adoption.

We will point out two separate issues and their proposed solutions, with the intention that they be adopted as resolutions to [CWG2398], which is the core issue tracking this problem.

It is also suggested to bump the version for the feature testing macro.

- Restricted effects of the change so it only applies to partial ordering.

- Improved solution’s notations and explanation.

- Consequences of deducing default arguments for class templates are further explored and the rules tweaked to make it work consistently.
- Consequences of deducing default arguments for packs are further explored.
- The problem of inconsistent deductions is further explored.

- Included changes to overload resolution.

- Added a paragraph on the consequences of mixing historical and P0522 affordances.

Consider the following example:

```
template<class T1> struct A;
template<template<class T2> class TT1, class T3>
struct A<TT1<T3>>; // #1
template<template<class T4, class T5> class TT2, class T6, class T7>
struct A<TT2<T6, T7>> {}; // #2
template<class T8, class T9 = float> struct B;
template struct A<B<int>>;
```

Prior to [P0522R0], with the more strict rules,
only the partial specialization candidate
`#2`

would be
considered, since `B`

has two template
parameters, `T8`

and
`T9`

, and the template template
parameter in
`#1`

has only
`T2`

as a template parameter, so
`#1`

doesn’t
match.

After P0522R0,
`#1`

starts
being accepted as a candidate, since
`B`

can be used just fine in place of
`TT1`

in the specialization `A<TT1<T3>>`

:
The default argument
`float`

for
`T9`

allows
`B`

to be specialized with just a
single argument.

However, the rules for partial ordering operate considering only the
candidates themselves, without access to
`B`

, which has the default template
argument. When looking at only those candidates, it’s not obvious the
specialization of `TT1`

would work, if
that were to be replaced with a template with two parameters.

The only clue is the fact that these two candidates are being considered together: this must mean that default arguments are somehow involved.

But nonetheless, as things stand, these candidates cannot be ordered, resulting in ambiguity.

Maintaining the pre-P0522 semantics of picking
`#2`

would be
ideal: Besides that it would be a compatible change, it is logical that
this is the most specialized candidate.

When performing template argument deduction such that
`P`

and
`A`

are specializations of either
class templates or template template parameters:

```
template <class T1, ... class Tn> TT1
= TT1<X1, ..., Xn>
P = TT2<Y1, ..., Ym> A
```

Under the current rules, `TT1`

will
be deduced as `TT2`

.

This paper proposes that in this case,
`TT1`

will be deduced as a new
template, synthesized from and almost identical to
`TT2`

, except that the specialization
arguments
(`Yn, ..., Ym`

)
will be used as default arguments in this new invented TT2, replacing
any existing ones, effectively as if it had been written as:

```
template<class T1, ..., class Tn, class Tn+1 = Yn+1, ..., class Tm = Ym>
using TT1 = TT2<T1, ..., Tn, Tn+1, ..., Tm> class TT2
```

That is, all template arguments used in the specialization of TT2, which would not have been consumed had them been used in TT1, will be used to deduce the default arguments for TT2.

In particular, this means that had
`Tn`

been a parameter pack, no default
arguments will be deduced for `TT2`

,
as that consumes all arguments.

When binding TT2 to TT1, the extra parameters are not accessible, since the specialization to TT1 is checked at template parse time, so the usage must match it’s declaration.

So it’s possible to conceptually simplify this, and think of this alias template as:

`template<class T1, ..., class Tn> using TT1 = TT2<T1, ..., Tn, Yn+1, ..., Ym>`

It’s useful to think of these invented templates in terms of the equivalences proposed in [CWG1286], but the last proposed resolution for that core issue only recognizes the first form.

This paper is not proposing to standardize a syntax to create this
implicit alias as written, outside of deduction, but for explanatory
purposes, the following syntax will be used: `A:1<float>`

.

Where this means, take the template name
`A`

, and create an alias from it by
applying the following template arguments as defaults, starting from the
second argument. Roughly equivalent to:

```
template<class T, class U> struct A {};
template <class T, class U = float> using invented_alias_A_1_float = A<T, U>;
```

This syntax will be used in the rest of this chapter to convey this adjustment.

Conversely, a template template parameter can also be deduced as a class template:

```
template <class T1, class T2 = float> struct A;
template <class T3> struct B;
template <template <class T4> class TT1, class T5> struct B<TT1<T5>>; // #1
template <class T6, class T7> struct B<A<T6, T7>> {}; // #2
template struct B<A<int>>;
```

When partially ordering
`#1`

versus
`#2`

, TT1 will
be deduced as a synthesized template based on A, with
`T7`

as default argument for
`T2`

.

When a parameter is deduced against multiple arguments, there are issues related to consistency, both in deduced and non-deduced contexts.

Related to the former, given this example:

```
template<class T1, class T2> struct A;
template<template<class, class> class TT1, class T1, class T2, class T3>
struct A<TT1<T1, T2>, TT1<T1, T3>> {}; // #1
template<template<class> class UU1, class U1, class U2>
struct A<UU1<U1>, UU1<U2>>; // #2
template struct A<B<int>, B<int>>;
```

Prior to P0522,
`#1`

would be
picked. This becomes ambiguous after
`P0522`

, and the rules proposed in
this paper don’t help.

The problem is that `UU1`

will be
deduced as both `TT1:1<T2>`

and `TT1:1<T3>`

,
and these should in general be treated as different templates, so this
would be taken as an inconsistent deduction under current rules.

It should be possible to make this work and keep the pre P0522 behavior, but the present paper doesn’t go as far yet, and this is left for future work.

This would involve recognizing that we are deducing two templates
against each other. `T2`

and
`T3`

are both template parameters of
it, and it’s consistent that they could be deduced to refer to the same
type.

Regarding consistency in non-deduced contexts, given this example:

```
template<class T> struct N { using type = T; };
template<class T1, class T2, class T3> struct A;
template<template<class, class> class TT1,
class T1, class T2, class T3, class T4>
struct A<TT1<T1, T2>, TT1<T3, T4>,
typename N<TT1<T1, T2>>::type> {};
template<template<class> class UU1,
template<class> class UU2,
class U1, class U2>
struct A<UU1<U1>, UU2<U2>, typename N<UU1<U1>>::type>;
template<class T8, class T9 = float> struct B;
template struct A<B<int>, B<int>, B<int>>;
```

This was accepted prior to P0522R0, but picking
`T2`

for the default argument of
`TT1`

will result in this example
being accepted, but result in rejection of the symmetric example where
`N<TT1<T1, T2>>`

is replaced with `N<TT1<T1, T4>>`

,
which is also accepted pre-P0522.

This is a similar problem, and this paper does not propose a mechanism to either keep both working, neither to reject both as ambiguous. This is left for future work.

As a particular consequence of this proposal, default arguments can be deduced for pack parameters, something which is not ordinarily possible to obtain.

This affects the partial ordering of the following example:

```
template<class T1, class T2 = float> struct A;
template<class T3> struct B;
template<template<class T4> class TT1, class T5>
struct B<TT1<T5>>; // #1
template<template<class T6, class ...T7s> class TT2, class T8, class ...T9s>
struct B<TT2<T8, T9s...>> {}; // #2
template struct B<A<int>>;
```

Before P0522,
`#2`

was
picked. After P0522, this changed entirely, now
`#1`

is
picked.

The proposed rules will restore the pre-P0522 behavior, picking
`#2`

again.

Consider the following example:

```
template<template<class ...T1s> class TT1> struct A {};
template<class T2> struct B;
template struct A<B>; // #1
template<template<class T3> class TT2> struct C {};
template<class ...T4s> struct D;
template struct C<D>; // #2
```

Before [P0522R0],
`#1`

was
valid, and
`#2`

was
invalid.

After P0522R0,
`#1`

stayed
valid, and
`#2`

became
valid.

Now consider this partial ordering example:

```
template<class T1> struct A;
template<template<class ...T2s> class TT1, class T3>
struct A<TT1<T3>>; // #1
template<template<class T4> class TT2, class T5>
struct A<TT2<T5>> {}; // #2
template<class T6> struct B;
template struct A<B<int>>;
```

Before P0522R0,
`#2`

was
picked.

However, since the same rules which determine a template can bind to a template template parameter, are also used to determine one template template parameter is at least as specialized as another, and since P0522R0 made no special provisions in these rules for the latter, this example now becomes ambiguous.

But this is undesirable, because it is a breaking change, and also
because logically
`#2`

is more
specialized.

The new paragraph inserted with P0522R0, which defines the ‘at least as specialized as’ rules in terms of function template rewrite, leads to this confusion:

There is a historical rule which allows packs in the parameter to match non-packs in the argument side.

The template argument list deduction rules accept packs in parameters
and no packs in arguments, while the reverse is rejected, but in order
to accept both
`#1`

and
`#2`

from the
first example, both directions need to be accepted. An exception had to
be carved out in 13.4.4
[temp.arg.template]/3
for this historical rule.

We propose a solution which will restore the semantics of the second example, by specifying that during partial ordering, packs must match non-packs in only one direction.

Additionally, as a consequence of this exception, all implementations seem to reject combinations of the P0522 and historical rule affordances, which would otherwise be accepted individually, such as this example:

```
template<template<class, int, int...> class> struct A {};
template<class, char> struct B;
template struct A<B>;
```

Where there are packs in parameter side matching non-pack in argument side, and also matching of NTTPs of different type.

This is a very arbitrary restriction, and we propose to make it clear this is valid.

Now consider this example:

```
template <template <class... > class TT1> struct A { static constexpr int V = 0; };
template <template <class > class TT2> struct A<TT2> { static constexpr int V = 1; };
template <template <class, class> class TT3> struct A<TT3> { static constexpr int V = 2; };
template <class ... > struct B;
template <class > struct C;
template <class, class > struct D;
template <class, class, class> struct E;
static_assert(A<B>::V == 0);
static_assert(A<C>::V == 1);
static_assert(A<D>::V == 2);
static_assert(A<E>::V == 0);
```

Before P0522R0, this is accepted.

After P0522R0, this became wholly invalid: The partial
specializations are not more specialized than the primary template.
Also, the `A<B>`

specialization becomes ambiguous.

With the proposed solution, the primary template becomes less specialized again.

But the other issue remains: The `A<B>`

specialization stays ambiguous. Here problem goes outside of the scope
of partial ordering.

Now consider this example:

```
template <template <class > class TT> void f(TT<int>); // #1
template <template <class...> class TT> void f(TT<int>); // #2
template <class > struct A {};
template <class...> struct B {};
void test() {
(A<int>()); // picks #1
f(B<int>()); // picks #2
f}
```

After P0522, both calls became ambiguous, but that’s so far only a partial ordering issue, which the solution so far breaks in favor of picking #1. But before P0522, overload resolution for the second call would only match candidate #2. Picking #2 is the desirable outcome here, since a pack seems to be a better match for a pack, and this would also avoid a breaking change.

We propose changing the deduction rules such that, only during partial ordering, packs matching to non-packs isn’t accepted both ways, that it should only be accepted in the argument to parameter direction, which is the opposite direction it’s normally accepted in the deduction of template argument lists.

We also propose scratching the classic pack exception clause in 13.4.4 [temp.arg.template]/3, in favor of explicitly specifying that outside of partial ordering, packs matching to non-packs must be accepted both ways, parameter to argument as well as argument to parameter.

Lastly, we propose to introduce a new kind of conversion for the purpose of solving the partial ordering issue. This conversion would be defined by the presence of a pack on the argument side matching a non-pack on the parameter side, whenever packs matching non-packs would also be allowed in the opposite direction. A candidate would be better when this conversion is not used.

When matching candidates against the primary template and partial specialziations, we first perform overload resolution with the set of candidates which did not perform this conversion. If there is no viable candidate, including a not viable primary template, do overload resolution again using the complement of the first set of candidates.

Add a new paragraph after 13.7.7.3 [temp.func.order]/2:

3 Except while partial ordering, when deducing the argument list of X as specified in 13.4.4 [temp.arg.template]/4, partial ordering considers first the set of templates which do not apply 13.10.3.6 [temp.deduct.type]/9.2, possibly including the primary template. If there is no viable template in this first set, partial ordering considers the rest.

Add a new paragraph after 13.7.7.3 [temp.func.order]/5:

6 - When matching template template parameters as described in 13.10.3.6 [temp.deduct.type]/8, if P is a specialization of a template template parameter, and A is either also the same kind, or a class template specialization, the template template parameter in P will be deduced as a modified template A, as if the template argument list in A were used as the default arguments for its template parameters, starting from the first parameter which has a correspondence in P, up to the last parameter which has a corresponding argument.

[Example:

```
template <class, class = float> struct A;
template <class> struct B;
template <template <class> class TT, class T> struct B<TT<T>>; // #1
template <class T, class U> struct B<A<T, U>>; // #2
template struct B<A<int>>; // selects #2
template <class> struct C;
template <template <class> class TT, class T> struct C<TT<T>>; // #3
template <class T, class U> struct C<A<T, U>>; // #4 template struct C<A<int>>; // selects #4
```

- end example]

Modify 13.10.3.6 [temp.deduct.type]/9:

9
If P has a form that contains <T>~~or~~, <i>, or <TT_{opt}>,
then each argument P_{i} of the respective template argument
list of P is compared with the corresponding argument A_{i} of
the corresponding template argument list of A. If the template argument
list of P contains a pack expansion that is not the last template
argument, the entire template argument list is a non-deduced context.
~~If P~~_{i} is a pack
expansion, then the pattern of P_{i} is compared with each
remaining argument in the template argument list of A. Each comparison
deduces template arguments for subsequent positions in the template
parameter packs expanded by P_{i}. During partial ordering, if
A_{i} was originally a pack expansion:

(9.1)
While partial ordering,
except when deducing the argument list of X as specified in 13.4.4
[temp.arg.template]/4,
if P_{i} is a pack expansion, then the pattern of P_{i}
is compared with each remaining argument in the template argument list
of A. Each comparison deduces template arguments for subsequent
positions in the template parameter packs expanded by P_{i}.
During partial ordering, if A_{i} was originally a pack
expansion:

(9.1.1) -
if P does not contain a template argument corresponding to A_{i}
then A_{i} is ignored;

(9.1.2) -
otherwise, if P_{i} is not a pack expansion, template argument
deduction fails.

(9.2)
When deducing the argument
list of X as specified in 13.4.4
[temp.arg.template]/4,
if A_{i} is a pack expansion, and there is at least one
remaining argument in P, then the pattern of A_{i} is compared
with each remaining argument in the template argument list of P. Each
comparison deduces template arguments for subsequent positions in the
template parameter packs expanded by A_{i}. If P_{i} was
originally a pack expansion:

(9.2.1) -
if A does not contain a
template argument corresponding to P_{i} then P_{i} is
ignored;

(9.2.2) - otherwise, template argument deduction fails.

[Note: (9.2) is the reverse of (9.1) - end note]

Modify 13.4.4 [temp.arg.template]/3:

3
A template-argument matches a template template-parameter P when P is at
least as specialized as the template-argument A. In this comparison, if
P is unconstrained, the constraints on A are not considered. ~~If P contains a template
parameter pack, then A also matches P if each of A’s template parameters
matches the corresponding template parameter in the template-head of
P~~. Two template parameters match if they are of the same
kind (type, non-type, template), for non-type template-parameters, their
types are equivalent (13.7.7.2
[temp.over.link]),
and for template template-parameters, each of their corresponding
template-parameters matches, recursively. When P’s template-head
contains a template parameter pack (13.7.4
[temp.variadic]),
the template parameter pack will match zero or more template parameters
or template parameter packs in the template-head of A with the same type
and form as the template parameter pack in P (ignoring whether those
template parameters are template parameter packs).

Append note and example to 13.4.4 [temp.arg.template]/4:

[Note: 13.10.3.6 [temp.deduct.type]/9 has a special case for this deduction - end note]

[Example:

```
template<class T1> struct A;
template<template<class ...> class TT, class T> struct A<TT<T>>; // #1
template<template<class > class TT, class T> struct A<TT<T>>; // #2
template<class> struct B;
template struct A<B<int>>; // selects #2
template <template <class...> class TT> struct C;
// This partial specialization is more specialized than the primary template.
template <template <class> class TT> struct C<TT>;
template <template <class> class TT> struct D;
// This partial specialization is NOT more specialized than the primary template. template <template <class...> class TT> struct D<TT>;
```

- end example]

[Example:

```
template<template<class, char, char...> class> struct A {};
template<class, int> struct B;
// OK, `char` matches 'int', pack matching non-pack is accepted. template struct A<B>;
```

- end example]

Add a new paragraph after 12.2.4.1 [over.match.best.general]/2.3:

(2.4) Except while partial ordering, when deducing the argument list of X as specified in 13.4.4 [temp.arg.template]/4, F1 does not apply 13.10.3.6 [temp.deduct.type]/9.2, and F2 does.

[Example:

```
template <template <class > class TT> void f(TT<int>); // #1
template <template <class...> class TT> void f(TT<int>); // #2
template <class > struct A {};
template <class...> struct B {};
void test() {
f(A<int>()); // picks #1
f(B<int>()); // picks #2 }
```

Many thanks to those who have reviewed, contributed suggestions, and otherwise helped the paper reach it’s current state: Arthur O’Dwyer, Corentin Jabot, James Touton, Richard Smith.

[CWG1286] Gabriel Dos Reis. 2011-04-03. Equivalence of alias templates.

https://wg21.link/cwg1286

[CWG2398] Jason Merrill. 2016-12-03. Template template parameter
matching and deduction.

https://wg21.link/cwg2398

[P0522R0] James Touton, Hubert Tong. 2016-11-11. DR: Matching of
template template-arguments excludes compatible templates.

https://wg21.link/p0522r0