[C++-sig] storing weak_ptr to this in classes extended from python

Holger Brandsmeier brandsmeier at gmx.de
Fri Feb 3 20:26:59 CET 2012

Dear list,

Note: I am actually using Teuchos::RCP instead of boost::shared_ptr
and boost::weak_ptr, but I already mirrored almost all the special
treatments in boost::python, and have been successfully using this for
a while. Everything that I write should actually apply to both
implementations in the same way.

I have a class that needs to store an RCP to itself to pass it along
to some classes that it creates, which might later need the RCP to
keep the original class alive. In C++ I implemented this by switching
the constructor to procted, and by having a static create() method
like this:

 static RCP<PfemSpaceT> create(RCP< MeshT > mesh, Point<int, meshdim>
   RCP<PfemSpaceT> ret(new PfemSpaceT(mesh, pol_deg_default));


   return ret;

The function setThisRCP() stores the shared point as a weak pointer.
When you call getThisRCP() the a strong RCP is returned from this weak
RCP. This is what you want as otherwise the class will never be

The problem starts now as the same class is extended from python. I
mirror the same implementation in python as:

 def __init__(self, mesh, pol_deg, cb_setDofEntity):
   super(PfemSpaceStaticCond, self).__init__(mesh, pol_deg, False)


Now I get serious problems with this call:

My understanding is, that the following happens:
 1) the from-python converter creates an RCP with the use count of
one and a custom deletor
 2) the function setThisRCP gets called and stores a weak RCP
 3) the control gets back to python and the use count of the RCP
drops to zero. The custom deletor dereferences the use count in

Later calls to getThisRCP() that turn the weak RCP into a strong RCP
are then invalid. When python no longer references the class, it gets
deleted. Some C++ parts that used the RCP from getThisRCP() work on a
class that has been deleted and at some point the program crashes.
(Here maybe if I would use boost the program would crash already

Do you have an idea how I can use the thisRCP paradigm together with
C++ classes that are extended from python?

Thanks for any advice,

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