C++ – How to sort a vector of pairs based on the second element of the pair


If I have a vector of pairs:

std::vector<std::pair<int, int> > vec;

Is there and easy way to sort the list in increasing order based on the second element of the pair?

I know I can write a little function object that will do the work, but is there a way to use existing parts of the STL and std::less to do the work directly?

EDIT: I understand that I can write a separate function or class to pass to the third argument to sort. The question is whether or not I can build it out of standard stuff. I'd really something that looks like:

std::sort(vec.begin(), vec.end(), std::something_magic<int, int, std::less>());

Best Solution

EDIT: using c++14, the best solution is very easy to write thanks to lambdas that can now have parameters of type auto. This is my current favorite solution

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end(), [](auto &left, auto &right) {
    return left.second < right.second;


Just use a custom comparator (it's an optional 3rd argument to std::sort)

struct sort_pred {
    bool operator()(const std::pair<int,int> &left, const std::pair<int,int> &right) {
        return left.second < right.second;

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end(), sort_pred());

If you're using a C++11 compiler, you can write the same using lambdas:

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end(), [](const std::pair<int,int> &left, const std::pair<int,int> &right) {
    return left.second < right.second;

EDIT: in response to your edits to your question, here's some thoughts ... if you really wanna be creative and be able to reuse this concept a lot, just make a template:

template <class T1, class T2, class Pred = std::less<T2> >
struct sort_pair_second {
    bool operator()(const std::pair<T1,T2>&left, const std::pair<T1,T2>&right) {
        Pred p;
        return p(left.second, right.second);

then you can do this too:

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end(), sort_pair_second<int, int>());

or even

std::sort(v.begin(), v.end(), sort_pair_second<int, int, std::greater<int> >());

Though to be honest, this is all a bit overkill, just write the 3 line function and be done with it :-P