Tag Archives: Downing

overloading, functions vs. methods, and rule of three

As we progress through the semester, and a fast approaching third test we find ourselves focusing on overloading, functions(symmetric operations) vs methods(asymmetric), and the rule of three.

    when overloading functions or methods in C++ there are several values that can be overridden. for functions we have: the types of the arguments and if the function is not an operator then we can also override on the number of arguments. Likewise with methods we can override on the type of the arguments and the const-ness of the method, if the method happens to not be an operator then we can also override on the number of arguments as well.

   In designing a class one of the questions that should be asked is whether the function could/should belong to the class which members it would need to take as an argument. To answer this question we can look at the constructor and if it is not marked explicit(as such allowing implicit conversion from the type of argument it accepts) then we should allow the function to remain outside of the scope of the class, this way we can have the implicit conversion for its arguments happen on either side. In addition to the last mentioned sided-ness argument one should also consider if the left hand side of the function needs to be of another class (for example the input/output streams) if this is the case then we again want to keep the function outside the scope of any class as we cant modify the stream class directly, so we let the globally scoped function do the work for us. Otherwise it might be appropriate to declare the function as a method instead.

 The rule of three was another topic covered and it quite simply says that if we need to override any of the destructor, copy constructor, or the copy assignment operations then we will likely need to override the other two of the ones mentioned above. To do this without repeating code we could create helper methods or we could define the copy constructor in terms of assignment or the assignment in terms of the copy constructor, the latter if probably more favorable as it leads to a three line solution involving calling swap.

Heap Emulation

This week in OOP we began focusing on type casting in C++ as well as allocation strategies and data storage strategies.

The type casting of C++ is a bit more verbose than it is in most other languages, the reason being is that often when typecasting data is truncated and latter we find that this data was needed, so since errors sometimes result C++ has taken to making typecasting easy to spot by giving it an overly verbose form. An example of this is the following:

int& view(char& c) const{
return *reinterpret_cast<int*>(&c);

The allocation and data storage strategies we reviewed were the following:

  • in C++ most systems interpret a char as 1 byte, as such it is a lightweight way to store general byte data.
  • to denote free space in a heap we can create sentinel values as int values(aka: 4 bytes), often these values might get overwritten accidentally, so to provide some minor error checking store two copies of each sentinel required.
  • to denote active/taken blocks use a negative value to distinguish between free blocks(positive values)

By using this information as well as some unit tests developed on the native heap manager we hope to achieve a similar heap manager that allows us more granular control of the data it has allocated, this is stricly for educational purposes of course.