janmr blog

Rust and Iterator Adapters

Iterators are a big part of writing good, idiomatic Rust code. Creating an iterator is quite simple in that it requires you to implement the Iterator trait for a struct that holds the iterator's state. The Rust documentation does a good job of documenting how to do this.

If we have an iterator adapter, that is, a function which take an Iterator and returns another Iterator, then Rust makes it possible to chain iterators together. It could look something like

v.iter().filter(|x| ...).map(|x| ...).collect();

where filter and map are iterator adapters. But how do you implement your own iterator adapter and make it available as a method on any iterator? Here, the Rust documentation is much less explicit.

As an example of how to do this, imagine we wish to implement an iterator that takes the elements from one iterator and output these elements again, but multiplied by some constant factor:

pub struct MultiplyBy<I, T> {
iter: I,
factor: T,

impl<I, T> Iterator for MultiplyBy<I, T>
I: Iterator<Item = T>,
T: std::ops::Mul<Output = T> + Copy,
type Item = T;
fn next(&mut self) -> Option<Self::Item> {
self.iter.next().map(|v| v * self.factor)

impl<I, T> MultiplyBy<I, T> {
pub fn new(iter: I, factor: T) -> Self {
Self { iter, factor }

This iterator is a bit contrived, as a simple map would probably be a better way of doing this. But for the sake of demonstration, it will do.

The code above makes it possible for us to write

for n in MultiplyBy::new(1..10, 5) {
println!("{}", n);

But we would really like to be able to chain the iterator adapters together, as mentioned above. For this, we need a new trait that inherits from the Iterator trait:

pub trait MultiplyByIterator<T>: Iterator<Item = T> + Sized {
fn multiply_by(self, factor: T) -> MultiplyBy<Self, T> {
MultiplyBy::new(self, factor)

impl<T, I: Iterator<Item = T>> MultiplyByIterator<T> for I {}

Note that the Sized trait is also necessary so the compiler knows the size of the new MultiplyBy structure.

Finally, the multiply_by method is made available on any Iterator by the impl block. Now, we can write

for n in (1..10).multiply_by(5) {
println!("{}", n);

which is a lot more readable.

Commenting is not possible for this post, but feel free to leave a question, correction or any comment by using the contact page