Module core::option

1.0.0 · source ·
Expand description

Optional values.

Type Option represents an optional value: every Option is either Some and contains a value, or None, and does not. Option types are very common in Rust code, as they have a number of uses:

  • Initial values
  • Return values for functions that are not defined over their entire input range (partial functions)
  • Return value for otherwise reporting simple errors, where None is returned on error
  • Optional struct fields
  • Struct fields that can be loaned or “taken”
  • Optional function arguments
  • Nullable pointers
  • Swapping things out of difficult situations

Options are commonly paired with pattern matching to query the presence of a value and take action, always accounting for the None case.

fn divide(numerator: f64, denominator: f64) -> Option<f64> {
    if denominator == 0.0 {
    } else {
        Some(numerator / denominator)

// The return value of the function is an option
let result = divide(2.0, 3.0);

// Pattern match to retrieve the value
match result {
    // The division was valid
    Some(x) => println!("Result: {x}"),
    // The division was invalid
    None    => println!("Cannot divide by 0"),

§Options and pointers (“nullable” pointers)

Rust’s pointer types must always point to a valid location; there are no “null” references. Instead, Rust has optional pointers, like the optional owned box, Option<Box<T>>.

The following example uses Option to create an optional box of i32. Notice that in order to use the inner i32 value, the check_optional function first needs to use pattern matching to determine whether the box has a value (i.e., it is Some(...)) or not (None).

let optional = None;

let optional = Some(Box::new(9000));

fn check_optional(optional: Option<Box<i32>>) {
    match optional {
        Some(p) => println!("has value {p}"),
        None => println!("has no value"),

§The question mark operator, ?

Similar to the Result type, when writing code that calls many functions that return the Option type, handling Some/None can be tedious. The question mark operator, ?, hides some of the boilerplate of propagating values up the call stack.

It replaces this:

fn add_last_numbers(stack: &mut Vec<i32>) -> Option<i32> {
    let a = stack.pop();
    let b = stack.pop();

    match (a, b) {
        (Some(x), Some(y)) => Some(x + y),
        _ => None,

With this:

fn add_last_numbers(stack: &mut Vec<i32>) -> Option<i32> {
    Some(stack.pop()? + stack.pop()?)

It’s much nicer!

Ending the expression with ? will result in the Some’s unwrapped value, unless the result is None, in which case None is returned early from the enclosing function.

? can be used in functions that return Option because of the early return of None that it provides.


Rust guarantees to optimize the following types T such that Option<T> has the same size, alignment, and function call ABI as T. In some of these cases, Rust further guarantees that transmute::<_, Option<T>>([0u8; size_of::<T>()]) is sound and produces Option::<T>::None. These cases are identified by the second column:

Ttransmute::<_, Option<T>>([0u8; size_of::<T>()]) sound?
Box<U> (specifically, only Box<U, Global>)when U: Sized
&Uwhen U: Sized
&mut Uwhen U: Sized
fn, extern "C" fn1always
ptr::NonNull<U>when U: Sized
#[repr(transparent)] struct around one of the types in this list.when it holds for the inner type

Under some conditions the above types T are also null pointer optimized when wrapped in a Result.

This is called the “null pointer optimization” or NPO.

It is further guaranteed that, for the cases above, one can mem::transmute from all valid values of T to Option<T> and from Some::<T>(_) to T (but transmuting None::<T> to T is undefined behaviour).

§Method overview

In addition to working with pattern matching, Option provides a wide variety of different methods.

§Querying the variant

The is_some and is_none methods return true if the Option is Some or None, respectively.

§Adapters for working with references

§Extracting the contained value

These methods extract the contained value in an Option<T> when it is the Some variant. If the Option is None:

  • expect panics with a provided custom message
  • unwrap panics with a generic message
  • unwrap_or returns the provided default value
  • unwrap_or_default returns the default value of the type T (which must implement the Default trait)
  • unwrap_or_else returns the result of evaluating the provided function

§Transforming contained values

These methods transform Option to Result:

These methods transform the Some variant:

These methods transform Option<T> to a value of a possibly different type U:

  • map_or applies the provided function to the contained value of Some, or returns the provided default value if the Option is None
  • map_or_else applies the provided function to the contained value of Some, or returns the result of evaluating the provided fallback function if the Option is None

These methods combine the Some variants of two Option values:

§Boolean operators

These methods treat the Option as a boolean value, where Some acts like true and None acts like false. There are two categories of these methods: ones that take an Option as input, and ones that take a function as input (to be lazily evaluated).

The and, or, and xor methods take another Option as input, and produce an Option as output. Only the and method can produce an Option<U> value having a different inner type U than Option<T>.


The and_then and or_else methods take a function as input, and only evaluate the function when they need to produce a new value. Only the and_then method can produce an Option<U> value having a different inner type U than Option<T>.

methodselffunction inputfunction resultoutput
and_thenNone(not provided)(not evaluated)None
or_elseNone(not provided)NoneNone
or_elseNone(not provided)Some(y)Some(y)
or_elseSome(x)(not provided)(not evaluated)Some(x)

This is an example of using methods like and_then and or in a pipeline of method calls. Early stages of the pipeline pass failure values (None) through unchanged, and continue processing on success values (Some). Toward the end, or substitutes an error message if it receives None.

let mut bt = BTreeMap::new();
bt.insert(20u8, "foo");
bt.insert(42u8, "bar");
let res = [0u8, 1, 11, 200, 22]
    .map(|x| {
        // `checked_sub()` returns `None` on error
            // same with `checked_mul()`
            .and_then(|x| x.checked_mul(2))
            // `BTreeMap::get` returns `None` on error
            .and_then(|x| bt.get(&x))
            // Substitute an error message if we have `None` so far
            // Won't panic because we unconditionally used `Some` above
assert_eq!(res, ["error!", "error!", "foo", "error!", "bar"]);

§Comparison operators

If T implements PartialOrd then Option<T> will derive its PartialOrd implementation. With this order, None compares as less than any Some, and two Some compare the same way as their contained values would in T. If T also implements Ord, then so does Option<T>.

assert!(None < Some(0));
assert!(Some(0) < Some(1));

§Iterating over Option

An Option can be iterated over. This can be helpful if you need an iterator that is conditionally empty. The iterator will either produce a single value (when the Option is Some), or produce no values (when the Option is None). For example, into_iter acts like once(v) if the Option is Some(v), and like empty() if the Option is None.

Iterators over Option<T> come in three types:

  • into_iter consumes the Option and produces the contained value
  • iter produces an immutable reference of type &T to the contained value
  • iter_mut produces a mutable reference of type &mut T to the contained value

An iterator over Option can be useful when chaining iterators, for example, to conditionally insert items. (It’s not always necessary to explicitly call an iterator constructor: many Iterator methods that accept other iterators will also accept iterable types that implement IntoIterator, which includes Option.)

let yep = Some(42);
let nope = None;
// chain() already calls into_iter(), so we don't have to do so
let nums: Vec<i32> = (0..4).chain(yep).chain(4..8).collect();
assert_eq!(nums, [0, 1, 2, 3, 42, 4, 5, 6, 7]);
let nums: Vec<i32> = (0..4).chain(nope).chain(4..8).collect();
assert_eq!(nums, [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]);

One reason to chain iterators in this way is that a function returning impl Iterator must have all possible return values be of the same concrete type. Chaining an iterated Option can help with that.

fn make_iter(do_insert: bool) -> impl Iterator<Item = i32> {
    // Explicit returns to illustrate return types matching
    match do_insert {
        true => return (0..4).chain(Some(42)).chain(4..8),
        false => return (0..4).chain(None).chain(4..8),
println!("{:?}", make_iter(true).collect::<Vec<_>>());
println!("{:?}", make_iter(false).collect::<Vec<_>>());

If we try to do the same thing, but using once() and empty(), we can’t return impl Iterator anymore because the concrete types of the return values differ.

// This won't compile because all possible returns from the function
// must have the same concrete type.
fn make_iter(do_insert: bool) -> impl Iterator<Item = i32> {
    // Explicit returns to illustrate return types not matching
    match do_insert {
        true => return (0..4).chain(once(42)).chain(4..8),
        false => return (0..4).chain(empty()).chain(4..8),

§Collecting into Option

Option implements the FromIterator trait, which allows an iterator over Option values to be collected into an Option of a collection of each contained value of the original Option values, or None if any of the elements was None.

let v = [Some(2), Some(4), None, Some(8)];
let res: Option<Vec<_>> = v.into_iter().collect();
assert_eq!(res, None);
let v = [Some(2), Some(4), Some(8)];
let res: Option<Vec<_>> = v.into_iter().collect();
assert_eq!(res, Some(vec![2, 4, 8]));

Option also implements the Product and Sum traits, allowing an iterator over Option values to provide the product and sum methods.

let v = [None, Some(1), Some(2), Some(3)];
let res: Option<i32> = v.into_iter().sum();
assert_eq!(res, None);
let v = [Some(1), Some(2), Some(21)];
let res: Option<i32> = v.into_iter().product();
assert_eq!(res, Some(42));

§Modifying an Option in-place

These methods return a mutable reference to the contained value of an Option<T>:

These methods transfer ownership of the contained value of an Option:

  • take takes ownership of the contained value of an Option, if any, replacing the Option with None
  • replace takes ownership of the contained value of an Option, if any, replacing the Option with a Some containing the provided value


Basic pattern matching on Option:

let msg = Some("howdy");

// Take a reference to the contained string
if let Some(m) = &msg {
    println!("{}", *m);

// Remove the contained string, destroying the Option
let unwrapped_msg = msg.unwrap_or("default message");

Initialize a result to None before a loop:

enum Kingdom { Plant(u32, &'static str), Animal(u32, &'static str) }

// A list of data to search through.
let all_the_big_things = [
    Kingdom::Plant(250, "redwood"),
    Kingdom::Plant(230, "noble fir"),
    Kingdom::Plant(229, "sugar pine"),
    Kingdom::Animal(25, "blue whale"),
    Kingdom::Animal(19, "fin whale"),
    Kingdom::Animal(15, "north pacific right whale"),

// We're going to search for the name of the biggest animal,
// but to start with we've just got `None`.
let mut name_of_biggest_animal = None;
let mut size_of_biggest_animal = 0;
for big_thing in &all_the_big_things {
    match *big_thing {
        Kingdom::Animal(size, name) if size > size_of_biggest_animal => {
            // Now we've found the name of some big animal
            size_of_biggest_animal = size;
            name_of_biggest_animal = Some(name);
        Kingdom::Animal(..) | Kingdom::Plant(..) => ()

match name_of_biggest_animal {
    Some(name) => println!("the biggest animal is {name}"),
    None => println!("there are no animals :("),

  1. this remains true for any argument/return types and any other ABI: extern "abi" fn (e.g., extern "system" fn