Iterator Design Pattern in Rust

1. Definition

The Iterator Design Pattern provides a way to access elements of a collection without exposing its underlying representation. It decouples the algorithm from the container in which data is stored.

2. Problem Statement

When you have a collection and want to iterate over its items without knowing the details of how the collection is implemented, or when you want to provide several ways of traversing a collection without changing the underlying code.

3. Solution

Introduce a separate object (iterator) that encapsulates accessing and traversing the items of a collection. The primary object can then offer one or multiple iterators for clients to traverse its contents.

4. Real-World Use Cases

1. Navigating a complex data structure like a tree or graph.

2. Accessing different kinds of storage systems uniformly (e.g., databases, in-memory data structures).

3. Implementing various traversal strategies (e.g., depth-first, breadth-first).

5. Implementation Steps

1. Define an Iterator trait with traversal methods.

2. Implement the Iterator for the specific collection.

3. Client uses the Iterator to traverse the collection.

6. Implementation in Rust Programming

// Define a simple collection: BookShelf
struct BookShelf {
    books: Vec<String>,
impl BookShelf {
    fn new() -> Self {
        BookShelf { books: Vec::new() }
    fn add_book(&mut self, book: String) {
// Implementing the IntoIterator trait for BookShelf so we can use loops
impl IntoIterator for BookShelf {
    type Item = String;
    type IntoIter = std::vec::IntoIter<String>;
    fn into_iter(self) -> Self::IntoIter {
// Client Code
fn main() {
    let mut shelf = BookShelf::new();
    shelf.add_book("The Great Gatsby".to_string());
    shelf.add_book("Moby Dick".to_string());
    for book in shelf {
        println!("{}", book);


"The Great Gatsby"
"Moby Dick"


1. BookShelf is our simple collection that can store books.

2. We want to iterate over the books on the shelf, so we implement the IntoIterator trait for BookShelf. This allows us to use the loop directly on a BookShelf instance.

3. The client code demonstrates how easy it is to add books to the shelf and then iterate over them using a loop.

In Rust, the standard library provides traits like Iterator and IntoIterator which abstract the iteration process, allowing Rust developers to iterate over custom types seamlessly.

7. When to use?

Use the Iterator pattern when:

1. You want to provide a uniform way to access different collections.

2. You want to decouple the traversal of elements from the collection itself.

3. You want to provide multiple traversal methods for a collection.