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Value Conversions

Value-preserving conversions

auto q1 = 5 * km;
std::cout << q1.in(m) << '\n';
quantity<si::metre, int> q2 = q1;

The second line above converts the current quantity to the one expressed in meters and prints its contents. The third line converts the quantity expressed in kilometers into the one measured in meters.

In case a user would like to perform an opposite transformation:

auto q1 = 5 * m;
std::cout << q1.in(km) << '\n';
quantity<si::kilo<si::metre>, int> q2 = q1;

Both conversions will fail to compile.

There are two ways to make the above work. The first solution is to use a floating-point representation type:

auto q1 = 5. * m;
std::cout << q1.in(km) << '\n';
quantity<si::kilo<si::metre>> q2 = q1;

or

auto q1 = 5 * m;
std::cout << value_cast<double>(q1).in(km) << '\n';
quantity<si::kilo<si::metre>> q2 = q1;  // double by default

Important

The mp-units library follows std::chrono::duration logic and treats floating-point types as value-preserving.

Value-truncating conversions

The second solution is to force a truncating conversion:

auto q1 = 5 * m;
std::cout << value_cast<km>(q1) << '\n';
quantity<si::kilo<si::metre>, int> q2 = q1.force_in(km);

This explicit cast makes it clear that something unsafe is going on. It is easy to spot in code reviews or while chasing a bug in the source code.

Note

q.force_in(U) is just a shortcut to run value_cast<U>(q). There is no difference in behavior between those two interfaces. q.force_in(U) was added for consistency with q.in(U) and q.force_numerical_value_in(U).

Another place where this cast is useful is when a user wants to convert a quantity with a floating-point representation to the one using an integral one. Again, this is a truncating conversion, so an explicit cast is needed:

quantity<si::metre, int> q3 = value_cast<int>(3.14 * m);

Info

It is often OK to use an integral as a representation type, but in general, floating-point types provide better precision and are privileged in the library as they are considered to be value-preserving.

In some cases, a unit and a representation type should be changed simultaneously. Moreover, sometimes, the order of doing those operations matters. In such cases, the library provides the value_cast<U, Rep>(q) which always returns the most precise result:

inline constexpr struct dim_currency final : base_dimension<"$"> {} dim_currency;
inline constexpr struct currency final : quantity_spec<dim_currency> {} currency;

inline constexpr struct us_dollar final : named_unit<"USD", kind_of<currency>> {} us_dollar;
inline constexpr struct scaled_us_dollar final : named_unit<"USD_s", mag_power<10, -8> * us_dollar> {} scaled_us_dollar;

namespace unit_symbols {

inline constexpr auto USD = us_dollar;
inline constexpr auto USD_s = scaled_us_dollar;

}  // namespace unit_symbols

using Price = quantity_point<currency[us_dollar]>;
using Scaled = quantity_point<currency[scaled_us_dollar], zeroth_point_origin<currency>, std::int64_t>;
inline constexpr struct dim_currency final : base_dimension<"$"> {} dim_currency;
inline constexpr struct currency final : quantity_spec<currency, dim_currency> {} currency;

inline constexpr struct us_dollar final : named_unit<"USD", kind_of<currency>> {} us_dollar;
inline constexpr struct scaled_us_dollar final : named_unit<"USD_s", mag_power<10, -8> * us_dollar> {} scaled_us_dollar;

namespace unit_symbols {

inline constexpr auto USD = us_dollar;
inline constexpr auto USD_s = scaled_us_dollar;

}  // namespace unit_symbols

using Price = quantity_point<currency[us_dollar]>;
using Scaled = quantity_point<currency[scaled_us_dollar], zeroth_point_origin<currency>, std::int64_t>;
inline constexpr struct dim_currency final : base_dimension<"$"> {} dim_currency;
QUANTITY_SPEC(currency, dim_currency);

inline constexpr struct us_dollar final : named_unit<"USD", kind_of<currency>> {} us_dollar;
inline constexpr struct scaled_us_dollar final : named_unit<"USD_s", mag_power<10, -8> * us_dollar> {} scaled_us_dollar;

namespace unit_symbols {

inline constexpr auto USD = us_dollar;
inline constexpr auto USD_s = scaled_us_dollar;

}  // namespace unit_symbols

using Price = quantity_point<currency[us_dollar]>;
using Scaled = quantity_point<currency[scaled_us_dollar], zeroth_point_origin<currency>, std::int64_t>;
using namespace unit_symbols;
Price price{12.95 * USD};
Scaled spx = value_cast<USD_s, std::int64_t>(price);

As a shortcut, instead of providing a unit and a representation type to value_cast, you may also provide a Quantity type directly, from which unit and representation type are taken. However, value_cast<Quantity>, still only allows for changes in unit and representation type, but not changing the type of the quantity. For that, you will have to use a quantity_cast instead.

Overloads are also provided for instances of quantity_point. All variants of value_cast<...>(q) that apply to instances of quantity have a corresponding version applicable to quantity_point, where the point_origin remains untouched, and the cast changes how the "offset" from the origin is represented. Specifically, for any quantity_point instance qp, all of the following equivalences hold:

static_assert(value_cast<Rep>(qp) == quantity_point{value_cast<Rep>(qp.quantity_from(qp.point_origin)), qp.point_origin});
static_assert(value_cast<U>(qp) == quantity_point{value_cast<U>(qp.quantity_from(qp.point_origin)), qp.point_origin});
static_assert(value_cast<U, Rep>(qp) == quantity_point{value_cast<U, Rep>(qp.quantity_from(qp.point_origin)), qp.point_origin});
static_assert(value_cast<Q>(qp) == quantity_point{value_cast<Q>(qp.quantity_from(qp.point_origin)), qp.point_origin});

Furthermore, there is one additional overload value_cast<ToQP>(qp). This overload permits to additionally replace the point_origin with another compatible one, while still representing the same point in the affine space. Thus, it is roughly equivalent to value_cast<ToQP::unit, ToQP::rep>(qp).point_for(ToQP::point_origin). In contrast to a separate value_cast followed by point_for (or vice-versa), the combined value_cast tries to choose the order of the individual conversion steps in a way to avoid both overflow and unnecessary loss of precision. Overflow is a risk because the change of origin point may require an addition of a potentially large offset (the difference between the origin points), which may well be outside the range of one or both quantity types.

Value conversions summary

The table below provides all the value conversions functions that may be run on x being the instance of either quantity or quantity_point:

Forcing Representation Unit Member function Conversion function
No Same u x.in(u)
No T Same x.in<T>()
No T u x.in<T>(u)
Yes Same u x.force_in(u) value_cast<u>(x)
Yes T Same x.force_in<T>() value_cast<T>(x)
Yes T u x.force_in<T>(u) value_cast<u, T>(x)