C++: Wikis


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C plus plus book.jpg
The C++ Programming Language, written by its architect, is the seminal book on the language.
Usual file extensions .hh .hpp .hxx .h++ .cc .cpp .cxx .c++
Paradigm Multi-paradigm: procedural, object-oriented, generic
Appeared in 1983
Designed by Bjarne Stroustrup
Developer Bjarne Stroustrup
Bell Labs
Preview release C++0x
Typing discipline Static, unsafe, nominative
Major implementations Borland C++ Builder, GCC, Intel C++ Compiler, Microsoft Visual C++, Sun Studio, Turbo C++, Comeau C/C++
Dialects ISO/IEC C++ 1998, ISO/IEC C++ 2003
Influenced by C, Simula, Ada 83, ALGOL 68, CLU, ML[1]
Influenced Perl, Lua, Ada 95, Java, PHP, D, C99, C#, Aikido, Falcon, Dao
OS Cross-platform (multi-platform)

C++ (pronounced "see plus plus") is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as a middle-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features.[2] It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell Labs as an enhancement to the C programming language and originally named "C with Classes". It was renamed C++ in 1983.[3]

As one of the most popular programming languages ever created,[4][5] C++ is widely used in the software industry. Some of its application domains include systems software, application software, device drivers, embedded software, high-performance server and client applications, and entertainment software such as video games. Several groups provide both free and proprietary C++ compiler software, including the GNU Project, Microsoft, Intel and Borland. C++ has greatly influenced many other popular programming languages, most notably Java.

C++ is also used for hardware design, where design is initially described in C++, then analyzed, architecturally constrained, and scheduled to create a register transfer level hardware description language via high-level synthesis.

The language began as enhancements to C, first adding classes, then virtual functions, operator overloading, multiple inheritance, templates, and exception handling among other features. After years of development, the C++ programming language standard was ratified in 1998 as ISO/IEC 14882:1998. That standard is still current, but is amended by the 2003 technical corrigendum, ISO/IEC 14882:2003. The next standard version (known informally as C++0x) is in development.


Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of C++

Stroustrup began work on "C with Classes" in 1979. The idea of creating a new language originated from Stroustrup's experience in programming for his Ph.D. thesis. Stroustrup found that Simula had features that were very helpful for large software development, but the language was too slow for practical use, while BCPL was fast but too low-level to be suitable for large software development. When Stroustrup started working in AT&T Bell Labs, he had the problem of analyzing the UNIX kernel with respect to distributed computing. Remembering his Ph.D. experience, Stroustrup set out to enhance the C language with Simula-like features. C was chosen because it was general-purpose, fast, portable and widely used. Besides C and Simula, some other languages that inspired him were ALGOL 68, Ada, CLU and ML. At first, the class, derived class, strong type checking, inlining, and default argument features were added to C via Stroustrup's C++ to C compiler, Cfront. The first commercial implementation of C++ was released in October 1985.[6]

In 1983, the name of the language was changed from C with Classes to C++ (++ being the increment operator in C and C++). New features were added including virtual functions, function name and operator overloading, references, constants, user-controlled free-store memory control, improved type checking, and BCPL style single-line comments with two forward slashes (//). In 1985, the first edition of The C++ Programming Language was released, providing an important reference to the language, since there was not yet an official standard. Release 2.0 of C++ came in 1989. New features included multiple inheritance, abstract classes, static member functions, const member functions, and protected members. In 1990, The Annotated C++ Reference Manual was published. This work became the basis for the future standard. Late addition of features included templates, exceptions, namespaces, new casts, and a Boolean type.

As the C++ language evolved, a standard library also evolved with it. The first addition to the C++ standard library was the stream I/O library which provided facilities to replace the traditional C functions such as printf and scanf. Later, among the most significant additions to the standard library, was the Standard Template Library.

C++ continues to be used and is one of the preferred programming languages to develop professional applications. The popularity of the language continues to grow.[7]

Language standard

In 1998, the C++ standards committee (the ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG21 working group) standardized C++ and published the international standard ISO/IEC 14882:1998 (informally known as C++98[8]). For some years after the official release of the standard, the committee processed defect reports, and published a corrected version of the C++ standard, ISO/IEC 14882:2003, in 2003. In 2005, a technical report, called the "Library Technical Report 1" (often known as TR1 for short), was released. While not an official part of the standard, it specified a number of extensions to the standard library, which were expected to be included in the next version of C++. Support for TR1 is growing in almost all currently maintained C++ compilers.

The standard for the next version of the language (known informally as C++0x) is in development.


According to Stroustrup: "the name signifies the evolutionary nature of the changes from C".[9] During C++'s development period, the language had been referred to as "new C", then "C with Classes". The final name is credited to Rick Mascitti (mid-1983) and was first used in December 1983. When Mascitti was questioned informally in 1992 about the naming, he indicated that it was given in a tongue-in-cheek spirit. It stems from C's "++" operator (which increments the value of a variable) and a common naming convention of using "+" to indicate an enhanced computer program. There is no language called "C plus". ABCL/c+ was the name of an earlier, unrelated programming language.


In The Design and Evolution of C++ (1994), Bjarne Stroustrup describes some rules that he uses for the design of C++:

  • C++ is designed to be a statically typed, general-purpose language that is as efficient and portable as C
  • C++ is designed to directly and comprehensively support multiple programming styles (procedural programming, data abstraction, object-oriented programming, and generic programming)
  • C++ is designed to give the programmer choice, even if this makes it possible for the programmer to choose incorrectly
  • C++ is designed to be as compatible with C as possible, therefore providing a smooth transition from C
  • C++ avoids features that are platform specific or not general purpose
  • C++ does not incur overhead for features that are not used (the "zero-overhead principle")
  • C++ is designed to function without a sophisticated programming environment

Stroustrup also mentions that C++ was always intended to make programming more fun and that many of the double meanings in the language are intentional.

Inside the C++ Object Model (Lippman, 1996) describes how compilers may convert C++ program statements into an in-memory layout. Compiler authors are, however, free to implement the standard in their own manner.

Standard library

The 1998 ANSI/ISO C++ standard consists of two parts: the core language and the C++ Standard Library; the latter includes most of the Standard Template Library (STL) and a slightly modified version of the C standard library. Many C++ libraries exist which are not part of the standard, and, using linkage specification, libraries can even be written in languages such as C, Fortran, Pascal, or BASIC. Which of these are supported is compiler dependent.

The C++ standard library incorporates the C standard library with some small modifications to make it optimized with the C++ language. Another large part of the C++ library is based on the STL. This provides such useful tools as containers (for example vectors and lists), iterators to provide these containers with array-like access and algorithms to perform operations such as searching and sorting. Furthermore (multi)maps (associative arrays) and (multi)sets are provided, all of which export compatible interfaces. Therefore it is possible, using templates, to write generic algorithms that work with any container or on any sequence defined by iterators. As in C, the features of the library are accessed by using the #include directive to include a standard header. C++ provides 69 standard headers, of which 19 are deprecated.

The STL was originally a third-party library from HP and later SGI, before its incorporation into the C++ standard. The standard does not refer to it as "STL", as it is merely a part of the standard library, but many people still use that term to distinguish it from the rest of the library (input/output streams, internationalization, diagnostics, the C library subset, etc.).

Most C++ compilers provide an implementation of the C++ standard library, including the STL. Compiler-independent implementations of the STL, such as STLPort,[10] also exist. Other projects also produce various custom implementations of the C++ standard library and the STL with various design goals.

Language features

C++ inherits most of C's syntax and the C preprocessor. The following is Bjarne Stroustrup's version of the Hello world program which uses the C++ standard library stream facility to write a message to standard output:[11][12]

#include <iostream>
int main()
   std::cout << "Hello, world!\n";

Returning a value from the 'main' function is completely optional.[13] For all other value-returning functions, failing to do so results in undefined behavior if control reaches the end of the function.[14]

Operators and operator overloading

C++ provides more than 30 operators, covering basic arithmetic, bit manipulation, indirection, comparisons, logical operations and others. Almost all operators can be overloaded for user-defined types, with a few notable exceptions such as member access (. and .*). The rich set of overloadable operators is central to using C++ as a domain specific language. The overloadable operators are also an essential part of many advanced C++ programming techniques, such as smart pointers. Overloading an operator does not change the precedence of calculations involving the operator, nor does it change the number of operands that the operator uses (any operand may however be ignored by the operator, though it will be evaluated prior to execution).


C++ templates enable generic programming. C++ supports both function and class templates. Templates may be parameterized by types, compile-time constants, and other templates. C++ templates are implemented by instantiation at compile-time. To instantiate a template, compilers substitute specific arguments for a template's parameters to generate a concrete function or class instance. Some substitutions are not possible; these are eliminated by an overload resolution policy described by the phrase "Substitution failure is not an error" (SFINAE). Templates are a powerful tool that can be used for generic programming, template metaprogramming, and code optimization, but this power implies a cost. Template use may increase code size, since each template instantiation produces a copy of the template code: one for each set of template arguments. This is in contrast to run-time generics seen in other languages (e.g. Java) where at compile-time the type is erased and a single template body is preserved.

Templates are different from macros: while both of these compile-time language features enable conditional compilation, templates are not restricted to lexical substitution. Templates are aware of the semantics and type system of their companion language, as well as all compile-time type definitions, and can perform high-level operations including programmatic flow control based on evaluation of strictly type-checked parameters. Macros are capable of conditional control over compilation based on predetermined criteria, but cannot instantiate new types, recurse, or perform type evaluation and in effect are limited to pre-compilation text-substitution and text-inclusion/exclusion. In other words, macros can control compilation flow based on pre-defined symbols but cannot, unlike templates, independently instantiate new symbols. Templates are a tool for static polymorphism (see below) and generic programming.

In addition, templates are a compile time mechanism in C++ which is Turing-complete, meaning that any computation expressible by a computer program can be computed, in some form, by a template metaprogram prior to runtime.

In summary, a template is a compile-time parameterized function or class written without knowledge of the specific arguments used to instantiate it. After instantiation the resulting code is equivalent to code written specifically for the passed arguments. In this manner, templates provide a way to decouple generic, broadly-applicable aspects of functions and classes (encoded in templates) from specific aspects (encoded in template parameters) without sacrificing performance due to abstraction.


C++ introduces object-oriented (OO) features to C. It offers classes, which provide the four features commonly present in OO (and some non-OO) languages: abstraction, encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism. Objects are instances of classes created at runtime. The class can be thought of as a template from which many different individual objects may be generated as a program runs.


Encapsulation is the hiding of information in order to ensure that data structures and operators are used as intended and to make the usage model more obvious to the developer. C++ provides the ability to define classes and functions as its primary encapsulation mechanisms. Within a class, members can be declared as either public, protected, or private in order to explicitly enforce encapsulation. A public member of the class is accessible to any function. A private member is accessible only to functions that are members of that class and to functions and classes explicitly granted access permission by the class ("friends"). A protected member is accessible to members of classes that inherit from the class in addition to the class itself and any friends.

The OO principle is that all of the functions (and only the functions) that access the internal representation of a type should be encapsulated within the type definition. C++ supports this (via member functions and friend functions), but does not enforce it: the programmer can declare parts or all of the representation of a type to be public, and is allowed to make public entities that are not part of the representation of the type. Because of this, C++ supports not just OO programming, but other weaker decomposition paradigms, like modular programming.

It is generally considered good practice to make all data private or protected, and to make public only those functions that are part of a minimal interface for users of the class. This hides all the details of data implementation, allowing the designer to later fundamentally change the implementation without changing the interface in any way.[15][16]


Inheritance allows one data type to acquire properties of other data types. Inheritance from a base class may be declared as public, protected, or private. This access specifier determines whether unrelated and derived classes can access the inherited public and protected members of the base class. Only public inheritance corresponds to what is usually meant by "inheritance". The other two forms are much less frequently used. If the access specifier is omitted, a "class" inherits privately, while a "struct" inherits publicly. Base classes may be declared as virtual; this is called virtual inheritance. Virtual inheritance ensures that only one instance of a base class exists in the inheritance graph, avoiding some of the ambiguity problems of multiple inheritance.

Multiple inheritance is a C++ feature sometimes considered controversial. Multiple inheritance allows a class to be derived from more than one base class; this can result in a complicated graph of inheritance relationships. For example, a "Flying Cat" class can inherit from both "Cat" and "Flying Mammal". Some other languages, such as Java or C#, accomplish something similar (although more limited) by allowing inheritance of multiple interfaces while restricting the number of base classes to one (interfaces, unlike classes, provide only declarations of member functions, no implementation or member data). Interfaces and abstract classes in Java and C# can be defined in C++ as a class containing only pure virtual functions, often known as an abstract base class or "ABC." Programmers preferring the Java/C# model of inheritance can choose to inherit only one non-abstract class, although in this case the declared member functions of the abstract base classes must be explicitly defined and cannot be inherited.


Polymorphism enables one common interface for many implementations, and for objects to act differently under different circumstances.

C++ supports several kinds of static (compile-time) and dynamic (run-time) polymorphisms. Compile-time polymorphism does not allow for certain run-time decisions, while run-time polymorphism typically incurs a performance penalty.

Static polymorphism

Function overloading allows programs to declare multiple functions having the same name (but with different arguments). The functions are distinguished by the number and/or types of their formal parameters. Thus, the same function name can refer to different functions depending on the context in which it is used. The type returned by the function is not used to distinguish overloaded functions.

When declaring a function, a programmer can specify default arguments for one or more parameters. Doing so allows the parameters with defaults to optionally be omitted when the function is called, in which case the default arguments will be used. When a function is called with fewer arguments than there are declared parameters, explicit arguments are matched to parameters in left-to-right order, with any unmatched parameters at the end of the parameter list being assigned their default arguments. In many cases, specifying default arguments in a single function declaration is preferable to providing overloaded function definitions with different numbers of parameters.

Templates in C++ provide a sophisticated mechanism for writing generic, polymorphic code. In particular, through the Curiously Recurring Template Pattern it's possible to implement a form of static polymorphism that closely mimics the syntax for overriding virtual functions. Since C++ templates are type-aware and Turing-complete they can also be used to let the compiler resolve recursive conditionals and generate substantial programs through template metaprogramming.

Dynamic polymorphism


Variable pointers (and references) to a base class type in C++ can refer to objects of any derived classes of that type in addition to objects exactly matching the variable type. This allows arrays and other kinds of containers to hold pointers to objects of differing types. Because assignment of values to variables usually occurs at run-time, this is necessarily a run-time phenomenon.

C++ also provides a dynamic_cast operator, which allows the program to safely attempt conversion of an object into an object of a more specific object type (as opposed to conversion to a more general type, which is always allowed). This feature relies on run-time type information (RTTI). Objects known to be of a certain specific type can also be cast to that type with static_cast, a purely compile-time construct which is faster and does not require RTTI.

Virtual member functions

Ordinarily when a function in a derived class overrides a function in a base class, the function to call is determined by the type of the object. A given function is overridden when there exists no difference, in the number or type of parameters, between two or more definitions of that function. Hence, at compile time it may not be possible to determine the type of the object and therefore the correct function to call, given only a base class pointer; the decision is therefore put off until runtime. This is called dynamic dispatch. Virtual member functions or methods[17] allow the most specific implementation of the function to be called, according to the actual run-time type of the object. In C++, this is commonly done using virtual function tables. If the object type is known, this may be bypassed by prepending a fully qualified class name before the function call, but in general calls to virtual functions are resolved at run time.

In addition to standard member functions, operator overloads and destructors can be virtual. A general rule of thumb is that if any functions in the class are virtual, the destructor should be as well. As the type of an object at its creation is known at compile time, constructors, and by extension copy constructors, cannot be virtual. Nonetheless a situation may arise where a copy of an object needs to be created when a pointer to a derived object is passed as a pointer to a base object. In such a case a common solution is to create a clone() (or similar) function and declare that as virtual. The clone() method creates and returns a copy of the derived class when called.

A member function can also be made "pure virtual" by appending it with = 0 after the closing parenthesis and before the semicolon. Objects cannot be created of a class with a pure virtual function and are called abstract data types. Such abstract data types can only be derived from. Any derived class inherits the virtual function as pure and must provide a non-pure definition of it (and all other pure virtual functions) before objects of the derived class can be created. A program that attempts to create an object of a class with a pure virtual member function or inherited pure virtual member function is ill-formed.

Parsing and processing C++ source code

It is relatively difficult to write a good C++ parser with classic parsing algorithms such as LALR(1).[18] This is partly because the C++ grammar is not LALR. Because of this, there are very few tools for analyzing or performing non-trivial transformations (e.g., refactoring) of existing code. One way to handle this difficulty is to choose a different syntax, such as Significantly Prettier and Easier C++ Syntax, which is LALR(1) parsable. More powerful parsers, such as GLR parsers, can be substantially simpler (though slower).

Parsing (in the literal sense of producing a syntax tree) is not the most difficult problem in building a C++ processing tool. Such tools must also have the same understanding of the meaning of the identifiers in the program as a compiler might have. Practical systems for processing C++ must then not only parse the source text, but be able to resolve for each identifier precisely which definition applies (e.g. they must correctly handle C++'s complex scoping rules) and what its type is, as well as the types of larger expressions.

Finally, a practical C++ processing tool must be able to handle the variety of C++ dialects used in practice (such as that supported by the GNU Compiler Collection and that of Microsoft's Visual C++) and implement appropriate analyzers, source code transformers, and regenerate source text. Combining advanced parsing algorithms such as GLR with symbol table construction and program transformation machinery can enable the construction of arbitrary C++ tools.[citation needed]


Producing a reasonably standards-compliant C++ compiler has proven to be a difficult task for compiler vendors in general. For many years, different C++ compilers implemented the C++ language to different levels of compliance to the standard, and their implementations varied widely in some areas such as partial template specialization. Recent releases of most popular C++ compilers support almost all of the C++ 1998 standard.[19]

One particular point of contention is the export keyword, intended to allow template definitions to be separated from their declarations. The first compiler to implement export was Comeau C/C++, in early 2003 (5 years after the release of the standard); in 2004, the beta compiler of Borland C++ Builder X was also released with export. Both of these compilers are based on the EDG C++ front end. Other compilers such as GCC do not support it at all. Many C++ books (such as Beginning ANSI C++ by Ivor Horton) provide example code with the keyword that will not compile in most compilers, without reference to this problem. Herb Sutter, former convener of the C++ standards committee, recommended that export be removed from future versions of the C++ standard,[20] but finally the decision was made to retain it.[21]

In order to give compiler vendors greater freedom, the C++ standards committee decided not to dictate the implementation of name mangling, exception handling, and other implementation-specific features. The downside of this decision is that object code produced by different compilers is expected to be incompatible. There are, however, third party standards for particular machines or operating systems which attempt to standardize compilers on those platforms (for example C++ ABI[22]); some compilers adopt a secondary standard for these items.

With C

C++ is often considered to be a superset of C, but this is not strictly true.[23] Most C code can easily be made to compile correctly in C++, but there are a few differences that cause some valid C code to be invalid in C++, or to behave differently in C++.

One commonly encountered difference is that C allows implicit conversion from void* to other pointer types, but C++ does not. Another common portability issue is that C++ defines many new keywords, such as new and class, that may be used as identifiers (e.g. variable names) in a C program.

Some incompatibilities have been removed by the latest (C99) C standard, which now supports C++ features such as // comments and mixed declarations and code. On the other hand, C99 introduced a number of new features that C++ does not support, such as variable-length arrays, native complex-number types, designated initializers and compound literals.[24] However, at least some of the new C99 features will likely be included in the next version of the C++ standard, C++0x.

In order to intermix C and C++ code, any function declaration or definition that is to be called from/used both in C and C++ must be declared with C linkage by placing it within an extern "C" {/*...*/} block. Such a function may not rely on features depending on name mangling (i.e., function overloading).


Critics of the language raise several points. First, since C++ includes C as a subset, it inherits many of the criticisms leveled at C. For its large feature set, it is criticized as being "bloated", over-complicated, and difficult to fully master.[25] Bjarne Stroustrup points out that resultant executables do not support these claims of bloat: "I have even seen the C++ version of the 'hello world' program smaller than the C version."[26] An Embedded C++ standard was proposed to deal with part of this, but criticized for leaving out useful parts of the language that incur no runtime penalty.[27]

C++ is more complex than some other programming languages. The ISO standard of the C++ language is about 310 pages (excluding the definitions of what is in the library). For comparison, the C programming language standard, written eight years earlier, is about 160 pages. However Bjarne Stroustrup points out that "The programming world is far more complex today than it was 30 years ago, and modern programming languages reflect that."[28] Other criticism stems from what is missing from C++. For example, the current version of Standard C++ provides no language features to create multi-threaded software. These facilities are present in some other languages including Java, Ada, and C# (see also Lock). It is possible to use operating system calls or third party libraries to do multi-threaded programming, but both approaches may create portability concerns. The new C++0x standard addresses this matter by extending the language with threading facilities.

C++ is also sometimes compared unfavorably with languages such as Smalltalk, Java, or Eiffel on the basis that it enables programmers to "mix and match" object-oriented programming, procedural programming, generic programming, functional programming, declarative programming, and others, rather than strictly enforcing a single style,[citation needed] although this feature may also be considered an advantage.

A fraudulent article was written wherein Bjarne Stroustrup is supposedly interviewed for a 1998 issue of IEEE's 'Computer' magazine[29]. In this article, the interviewer expects to discuss the successes of C++ now that several years had passed after its introduction. Instead, Stroustrup proceeds to confess that his invention of C++ was intended to create the most complex and difficult language possible to weed out amateur programmers and raise the salaries of the few programmers who could master the language. The article contains various criticisms of C++'s complexity and poor usability, most false or exaggerated. In reality, Stroustrup wrote no such article, and due to the pervasiveness of the hoax, was compelled to publish an official denial on his website.[30].

See also


  1. ^ Stroustrup, Bjarne (1997). "1" (in English). The C++ Programming Language (Third ed.). ISBN 0201889544. OCLC 59193992. 
  2. ^ C++ The Complete Reference Third Edition, Herbert Schildt, Publisher: Osborne McGraw-Hill.
  3. ^ ATT.com
  4. ^ "Programming Language Popularity". 2009. http://www.langpop.com/. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  5. ^ "TIOBE Programming Community Index". 2009. http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  6. ^ "Bjarne Stroustrup's FAQ — When was C++ invented?". http://public.research.att.com/~bs/bs_faq.html#invention. Retrieved 30 May 2006. 
  7. ^ "Trends on C++ Programmers, Developers & Engineers". http://www.odesk.com/trends/c%2B%2B. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  8. ^ Stroustrup, Bjarne. "C++ Glossary". http://www.research.att.com/~bs/glossary.html. Retrieved 8 June 2007. 
  9. ^ "Bjarne Stroustrup's FAQ — Where did the name "C++" come from?". http://public.research.att.com/~bs/bs_faq.html#name. Retrieved 16 January 2008. 
  10. ^ STLPort home page, quote from "The C++ Standard Library" by Nicolai M. Josuttis, p138., ISBN 0-201 37926-0, Addison-Wesley, 1999: "An exemplary version of STL is the STLport, which is available for free for any platform"
  11. ^ Stroustrup, Bjarne (2000). The C++ Programming Language (Special Edition ed.). Addison-Wesley. p. 46. ISBN 0-201-70073-5. 
  12. ^ Open issues for The C++ Programming Language (3rd Edition) - This code is copied directly from Bjarne Stroustrup's errata page (p. 633). He addresses the use of '\n' rather than std::endl. Also see www.research.att.com and www.delorie.com/djgpp/ for an explanation of the implicit return 0; in the main function. This implicit return is not available in other functions.
  13. ^ ISO/IEC (2003). ISO/IEC 14882:2003(E): Programming Languages - C++ §3.6.1 Main function [basic.start.main] para. 5
  14. ^ ISO/IEC (2003). ISO/IEC 14882:2003(E): Programming Languages - C++ §6.6.3 The return statement [stmt.return] para. 2
  15. ^ Sutter, Herb; Alexandrescu, Andrei (2004). C++ Coding Standards: 101 Rules, Guidelines, and Best Practices. Addison-Wesley. 
  16. ^ Henricson, Mats; Nyquist, Erik (1997). Industrial Strength C++. Prentice Hall. ISBN ISBN 0-13-120965-5. 
  17. ^ Stroustrup, Bjarne (2000). The C++ Programming Language (Special Edition ed.). Addison-Wesley. p. 310. ISBN 0-201-70073-5. "A virtual member function is sometimes called a method." 
  18. ^ Andrew Birkett. "Parsing C++ at nobugs.org". Nobugs.org. http://www.nobugs.org/developer/parsingcpp/. Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
  19. ^ Herb Sutter (15 April 2003). "C++ Conformance Roundup". Dr. Dobb's Journal. http://www.ddj.com/dept/cpp/184401381. Retrieved 30 May 2006. 
  20. ^ Why We Can’t Afford ExportPDF (266 KB)
  21. ^ "Minutes of J16 Meeting No. 36/WG21 Meeting No. 31, April 7-11, 2003". 25 April 2003. http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/papers/2003/n1459.html. Retrieved 4 September 2006. 
  22. ^ "C++ ABI". http://www.codesourcery.com/cxx-abi/. Retrieved 30 May 2006. 
  23. ^ "Bjarne Stroustrup's FAQ - Is C a subset of C++?". http://public.research.att.com/~bs/bs_faq.html#C-is-subset. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  24. ^ "C9X -- The New C Standard". http://home.datacomm.ch/t_wolf/tw/c/c9x_changes.html. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 
  25. ^ Morris, Richard (July 2, 2009). "Niklaus Wirth: Geek of the Week". http://www.simple-talk.com/opinion/geek-of-the-week/niklaus-wirth-geek-of-the-week/. Retrieved 8 August 2009. "C++ is a language that was designed to cater to everybody’s perceived needs. As a result, the language and even more so its implementations have become complex and bulky, difficult to understand, and likely to contain errors for ever." 
  26. ^ Why is the code generated for the "Hello world" program ten times larger for C++ than for C?
  27. ^ What do you think of EC++?
  28. ^ Why is C++ so BIG?
  29. ^ Unattributed. Previously unpublished interview with Bjarne Stroustroup, designer of C++.
  30. ^ Stroustrup, Bjarne. Stroustrup FAQ: Did you really give an interview to IEEE?

Further reading

  • Abrahams, David; Aleksey Gurtovoy. C++ Template Metaprogramming: Concepts, Tools, and Techniques from Boost and Beyond. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-321-22725-5. 
  • Alexandrescu, Andrei (2001). Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-70431-5. 
  • Becker, Pete (2006). The C++ Standard Library Extensions : A Tutorial and Reference. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-321-41299-0. 
  • Alexandrescu, Andrei; Herb Sutter (2004). C++ Design and Coding Standards: Rules and Guidelines for Writing Programs. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-321-11358-6. 
  • Coplien, James O. (1992, reprinted with corrections 1994). Advanced C++: Programming Styles and Idioms. ISBN 0-201-54855-0. 
  • Dewhurst, Stephen C. (2005). C++ Common Knowledge: Essential Intermediate Programming. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-321-32192-8. 
  • Information Technology Industry Council (15 October 2003). Programming languages — C++ (Second edition ed.). Geneva: ISO/IEC. 14882:2003(E). 
  • Josuttis, Nicolai M. The C++ Standard Library. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-37926-0. 
  • Koenig, Andrew; Barbara E. Moo (2000). Accelerated C++ - Practical Programming by Example. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-70353-X. 
  • Lippman, Stanley B.; Josée Lajoie, Barbara E. Moo (2005). C++ Primer. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-72148-1. 
  • Lippman, Stanley B. (1996). Inside the C++ Object Model. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-83454-5. 
  • Stroustrup, Bjarne (2000). The C++ Programming Language (Special Edition ed.). Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-70073-5. 
  • Stroustrup, Bjarne (1994). The Design and Evolution of C++. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-54330-3. 
  • Stroustrup, Bjarne. Programming Principles and Practice Using C++. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0321543726. 
  • Sutter, Herb (2001). More Exceptional C++: 40 New Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solutions. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-70434-X. 
  • Sutter, Herb (2004). Exceptional C++ Style. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-76042-8. 
  • Vandevoorde, David; Nicolai M. Josuttis (2003). C++ Templates: The complete Guide. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-73484-2. 
  • Scott Meyers (2005). Effective C++. Third Edition. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-321-33487-6

External links

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

This is a placeholder for Portal:Engineering and TechnologySchool:Computer ScienceTopic:Computer Programming → Topic:C++

Welcome to the C++ programming language. Whether you're not certain which language to pick or you've already decided on C++, you've come to the right place.

C++ is arguably the most versatile language in common use. C++ allows for both high-performance code as well as expressive abstractions and design constructs. The language is not perfect but it does represent an excellent compromise between these potentially conflicting language capabilities. C++ combines "low-level" programming tailored to specific machine architectures with "high-level" programming, which can allow code to be completely abstracted from any particulars of the machine executing the program. Both approaches have pros and cons that we'll cover in this tutorial. If interested Wikibooks also has material on this subject.

Why should you learn C++?

The C++ language originally derives from the imperative language C. The defining feature which distinguishes C++ from C is support for Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). This makes C++ a multi-paradigm programming language. An example that can help to demonstrate what OOP means:

If you were writing a program to track the statistics of a racing cyclist, you might make different parts of the program for their age, years of racing, wins, falls, what teams they've raced with and so on. In real life, though, that's not how we think. Instead, we would think of the cyclist as a whole, and the different statistics as being part of him. We could also apply that general "model" of a cyclist, maybe with a few modifications, to any cyclist, and have a complete representation of them. This is the essence of object-oriented programming, and as you understand it more fully, it will allow you to create powerful, but yet easily-understood programs. Instead of relying on data that is scattered throughout a program, you can create a block of code that defines everything you need, and then you reuse that throughout the code.

As a further example, think of a motor car. You unlock it with the key, and get in. Then, you turn the ignition, put the car in reverse, release the brake, and press the accelerator. As you drive, you use the steering wheel, the brake, and the accelerator (and maybe the clutch). You don't know or need to know all the specifics of the car to make it work. You just use what you need, and it's simple, too. Object-oriented programming is like that. You can make powerful code, but it's all hidden, and you can interact and reuse that code using the simple controls.

Other languages, such as Java, Python, Smalltalk and C#, allow the programmer to write code in this object-orientated way. The key difference between C++ and these languages is that C++ is designed to be compiled into efficient low-level code which can run directly on the processor of a computer. This ability means that C++ differs in many ways from these other languages, and lacks many of the advanced facilities you might be familiar with if you already know one of them.



Your enthusiasm. This is meant for a first time user. Every lesson will only depend on what has already been taught in previous lessons. All you need here is your willingness to learn, experiment, and have fun with computers.

Get an IDE (Integrated Development Environment, generally consisting of a GUI (graphic user interface), a compiler (transforms C/C++ code into a machine readable program) and a text editor). Most C++ IDEs use the GNU C++ compiler which is part of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). This is a program from the Free Software Foundation. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). For detailed information check http://gcc.gnu.org.

Some might say that it is important to learn to edit code using an editor, and compile it manually. There is time for that later; the manual editing process changes depending on system and compiler, so put it off until you can write significant programs.

Recommendations for an IDE are Microsoft Visual Studio Express C++ (freeware, Windows; step-into debugging,) Xcode (closed-source, Macintosh OS X, step-into debugging,) Eclipse, or Code::Blocks IDE with Mingw (open source, cross-platform; no step-into debugging.) Dev-C++ is often mentioned, but it doesn't seem to have seen active development in years, and can be very inconvenient to use. You can download a fully functional version of Dev-C++ free of charge from the developers website http://www.bloodshed.net/download.html

A fairly recent addition to this list is the Open Watcom C++ compiler and environment, which is available for several operating systems. Most of the compilers/IDEs listed here are native to the Microsoft Windows Operating System. C/C++ was born on UNIX, and there are several free UNIX operating systems such as FreeBSD. C/C++ comes with most GNU/Linux variants. Any of the above listed operating systems, and compilers/IDEs are sufficient to learn to program C/C++.

Course Description

This course covers everything, from the most basic principles of C++ up to advanced concepts such as polymorphism, inheritance and the Windows API.

Pros and Cons of C++


  • Is extremely popular, and therefore lots of support is available
  • Has a large base of freely available code for downloading, supporting also direct integration with ASM and C.
  • Is very powerful, and can be used to create just about any program, including low-level system programs.
  • There is a compiler for C++ on every major operating system. C++ programs that are purposely written for portability will work on many major operating systems with little change in code.
  • C++ is a language which is compiled (transformed from human readable code to low-level machine code), so it can often run faster than languages such as Java, Python, and C#; as it does not depend on an interpreter or a "run time environment" which must be loaded before hand
  • It has a long established use base that likely guarantees support for the language will continue for quite some time
  • Lots of languages are based off of C/C++, such as Java, so knowledge in C++ will make understand these languages easier
  • Has a relatively small associated C++ Standard Library as compared to languages such as Java's Standard Platform SDK or C#'s .NET Framework, permitting greater versatility and reducing the system footprint of resulting compilations.


  • Has a somewhat more difficult learning curve than some other languages. For instance C++'s most powerful features, such as templates, have a very complex syntax.
  • Is very picky how code is formatted (but not quite as picky as FORTRAN or RPG)
  • GUI, Networking and Threads aren't standardized. Requiring the use of non-standard, third-party libraries (though many such libraries exist, both free and commercial, are available as the possibility to use C libraries), being Boost one of the preferred. The lack of a standard however may hamper learn-ability and interoperability or at least require some extended investigation.



Data Structures


To be merged


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  • Kamron, just looking around and trying it out while I'm at it. 14:09, January 11, 2010
  • User:Chibisenpai 15 year old trying to learn C++ Chibisenpai 00:31, 2 December 2009 (UTC) :D
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  • Mason Swanson 13:58, 7 September 2009 (UTC) I Know A Little C++ But Hopefully We Can Help Each Other More! Knowledge Is Power!!! 15:53, 11 May 2009 (UTC) 23:01, 26 February 2009 (UTC) Cruzzz --Timmeh 1250 00:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC) Finally getting a grip on C++, thanks!

  • Termine 23:57, 2 September 2008 (UTC) More programming stuff. Yeah!
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  • Pjanssen 09:58, 11 February 2008 (UTC) After a stupid course in matlab in college it is time for the real stuff.
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  • Kafitz22 15:15, 24 July 2007 (UTC) Can't wait to start learning C++, although I know nothing except a bit of TI-BASIC :P
  • Michael Z 07:42, 2 July 2007 (UTC) (Looking forward to learning the language of C++)
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  • Giawa 17:51, 5 October 2006 (UTC) (Here to learn, have my code torn apart, try to help teach, everything)
  • --SB_Johnny | talk -- Complete and total newbie. I'd like to become less ignorant about programming languages, and C++ was recommended as a good place to start for what I want to use languages for.
  • Kwaggle 22:08, 20 December 2006 (UTC) C++ is my main proficiency, maybe I can pass some of it on.
  • Josteinaj 22:55, 21 December 2006 (UTC) Here to learn. I know Java from before (as it is arguably easier, and very portable), but I'd like to learn C/C++ now. It would be great if the guide emphasized compatibility between platforms. Also, I eventually want to learn how to generate sounds, graphics and networking in C++.
  • -- 22:00, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Miles32 06:45, 7 January 2007 (UTC) Here to learn C++. Im completely new to programming and I heard that c++ was the way to go.
  • Blasterman 7 January 2007 -- C++ is my main programming language, so I'd like to sometimes help write the lessons. Never used C before, though.
  • — Saivorgz 05:34, 12 January 2007 (UTC) -- January 11 2007 -- §wanting to learn c++ since i know java
  • ex0du5 22:25, 12 January 2007 (UTC) -- Currently enrolled in Computer Engineering, and have taken 3 Java courses. I want to learn C++ as it is more efficient in programming visual and graphic intensive applications.
  • Grimley 11:21, 21 March 2008 (UTC) -- just a learner plodding along.
  • Modnar 09:31, 26 January 2007 (UTC) (Going to be doing this in university this year and would like to get a head start and always wanted to learn and now I have decided to do so and looking to use this also with creating Palm OS programs in the future hopefully as well :D)
  • cybergig (02/01/07 5:02AM ) I'm a total newbie to this so I am here to quickly learn this language and hopefully several others to get a head-start on programming.
  • Liam §wanting to learn c++
  • Mattsan 19:27 10 Febuary 07 Totally new to programming but I'm really enthusiastic on learning C++!
  • Chuboltite 10:00, 10 March 2007 (UTC) I've heard from multiple sources that C++ is a great language to learn. Plus, the programming experience will help me in my future studies, so why not?
  • Chyld989 09:23, 11 March 2007 (UTC) I already know some C++, some of which I learned on my own and some of which I learned in school. Hoping to maybe learn a bit more, and maybe help others in the process.
  • baci 09:26, 12 March 2007 (UTC) Like so many others, I'm here to learn and then teach. I wish I more experience so that I could assist with completion of this course.
  • Devourer09 20:38, 22 March 2007 (UTC) Here to learn and if possible help others.
  • 03:02, 21 April 2007 (UTC) Well, I could probably help, just need to find a topic that needs to be covered. maybe pointers?
  • --Xentalion 00:57, 2 May 2007 (UTC) I'm here to help too, I've written a few programs in C++ and am hoping to help other people learn.
  • Jocade 010 07:25, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
  • --Topcount345 01:14, 22 May 2007 (UTC)|Talk I hope to learn more about c++, next year I am going to be in a class( by myself) in an attempt to learn c++. Starting to learn now in an effort to put a footstool in place to climb the wall this will probably be.
  • Scooter 16:37, 23 May 2007 (UTC) I've been writing code for about 2 years, one of them with C++, I am most enthusiastic about wikiversity and I plan to contribute as much as I can.
  • Cbradleyo 17:19, 18 June 2007 (UTC) Learned programming in high school, but that was over 10 years ago. Eager to learn C++.
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  • ali2538 22:07, August 4 2007 (UTC) I wanted to learn this language since 7 years ago and every time that I started some thing happened. I hope I can be successful in it this time. I really want to learn c++. Good Luck to Everyone in learning C++. Including me.
  • --Pajumed 02:12, 8 August 2007 (UTC) Just found out about wikiversity and I've wanted to learn C++ for a while, might as well if I want to do comp sci in college.
  • Vitor 03:01, 14 August 2007 (UTC) To teach those who know less and to learn from everyone.
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  • icecreamsoop 13:09, 11 October 200y (UTC) I'm looking to expand my programming knowledge beyond that of Java.
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  • ...
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  • Captain panda 05:13, 5 January 2008 (UTC) I have only just learned a few weeks ago how little I really know about computers and I want to learn programming languages to help teach myself. C++ seems like a good place to start.
  • Nofrak 05:04, 23 January 2008 (UTC) Expanse of knowledge
  • Marmalade 20:26, 6 February 2008 (UTC)Hi, I'm hoping to learn some *stuff from this. I have very little experience in programming but I'm always willing to learn.
  • Linuxlover101 21:12, 2 March 2008 (UTC) I've been really wanting to learn C++. I've had experience with web programming languages, but I need to move on.
  • Coggz 18:37, 12 March 2008 (UTC) Learning C++ from a book and from here! GO wikiversity!! Oh, and GO Kubuntu! 08:11, 26 March 2008 (UTC)yash

  • Adrian Parry74.14.100.221 11:30, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Billlava 19:23, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

  • Zinigor 11:07, 7 August 2008 (UTC) I like what I see in Wikiversity so far. I hope this will help me learn C++. Thanks to all contributors!
  • Dreamsjoint 08:07, 10 September 2008 (UTC) - Bonjour all, time for me to brush up a bit =]
  • Maarten 08:58, 6 November 2008 (UTC) Hey, I'm an informatics student, and I'm willing to add some of my cources/exercises to the pages :)
  • Swgeek54 04:01, 27 December 2008 (UTC)I am very enthusiastic about wikiversity, and hope to both learn and contribute here

Cheekybrew 18:51, 15 January 2009 (UTC)programing language...what is wrong with me? AngMohClay 04:03, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

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Briggszilla 23:27, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

  • 64ByteKiller 13:11, 9 April 2009 (UTC) C++ is my main proficiency and I would like an opportunity to help others, especially as I was self-taught.

Slackbheep 14:19, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

  • Cycle-t 18:11, 28 May 2009 (UTC) As an ActionScript/JavaScript programmer I'm looking for a better understanding of key programming concepts, origins and how to write more elegant code in general. Additionally I will be taking a Graphics programming course at a brick and mortar college in the fall that's built on C++ which I want to make the most of. I'm greatly looking forward to working through this course.
  • Gert van den Brink 06:45, 25 June 2009 (UTC) - I'm trying to get some extra programming skills, and I thought that C++ would we a good start.

Rr 06:02, 30 June 2009 (UTC) BCG999 Out! 20:44, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

  • --Atishay811 17:57, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Davinci Incarnate 12:13, 3 August 2009 (UTC)I am completly new to code and programming, and from what I have found online C++ is the best place to start for my interests. Thank You Wikiversity Nulldev13 07:39, 13 September 2009 (UTC) i am pretty much interested in programming C++. nice to be here Ukuli 09:48, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

  • Murukeshm 14:46, 15 October 2009 (UTC) I will try to learn from this article, and try to improve it where I can. Great work! 12:26, 19 October 2009 (UTC) Hamish Todd, student. Never programmed before except with Game maker, hoping this project will accomodate me.

  • --horneddevil 11:35, 4 november 2009 (IGC) thijs de meester, student. Need to learn programming with C++ for a robot hoping thiscourse will help me with that.





Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


Wikibooks has more about this subject:




Proper noun




  1. (programming languages) A multi-paradigm high-level compiled programming language developed from C.

Related terms


See also


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Subject:C++ programming language article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Computer programming languages

These Wikibooks deal with the C++ programming language: a general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as a middle-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features. You may also be interested on the material regarding this subject at Wikiversity.

C++ Programming: this Wikibook covers the history and characteristics of the programming language as it may be taught in an introductory to advance course or as a reference book, including information on what is a programming language or how to install a compiler to the most used external libraries, GUI frameworks, design patterns, RAII, Multi-Threading and other information needed for real world programming in C++.

Aimed towards: Anyone interested in the C++ programming language.

More C++ Idioms: The objective of this open book is to help elevate the knowledge of programmers who have moderate level of familiarity with C++ to a level where they feel much friendlier with C++. It provides an exhaustive catalog of modern reusable C++ idioms based on what expert programmers often use while programming/designing using C++. It is an effort to capture their vocabulary and concepts into a single work.

Aimed towards: Anyone with an intermediate level of knowledge in C++ and programming language paradigms.

Optimizing C++: Platform independent guidelines to develop efficient software using C++.

Aimed towards: C++ programmers who need to improve the performance of the software they develop.

Understanding C++: Wikibook covering only the core C++ language and its standard library and focuses on writing clean portable code. This book assumes you already have a C++ compiler installed and have read how to compile programs with it.

Aimed towards: Anyone with a moderate knowledge of how to use a computer and an interest in understanding the C++ standard.

C++ Programming As A Set Of Problems: a Wikibook covering the C++ language from the practical side. This book assumes you already have a C++ compiler installed and have read how to compile programs with it.

Aimed towards: Anyone with a moderate knowledge of how to use a computer and an interest in programming with C++.

C & C++ X: a Wikibook covering the C and C++ languages through examples.

Aimed towards: Anyone with a moderate knowledge of how to use a computer and an interest in programming with C or C++.

Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++]] C++ (pronounced "see plus plus") is a computer programming language. It has been created for writing programs for many different purposes. In the 1990s, C++ became one of the most used programming languages.

The C++ programming language was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs in the 1980s. It was originally named "C with classes". The language was planned as a better version of the C programming language and it added features like object-oriented programming. Step by step, a lot of advanced features were added to the language, like operator overloading, exception handling and templates.


The following text is C++ source code and it will write the words "Hello World!" to the screen when it has been compiled and is executed. This is the way Bjarne Stroustroup wrote it in his book, The C++ Programming Language.[1]

  1. include

int main() {

  std::cout << "Hello, world!\n";



  1. Stroustrup, Bjarne (2000). The C++ Programming Language (Special Edition ed.). Addison-Wesley. p. 46. ISBN 0-201-70073-5. 

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