Some extensions of C in C++

1: The scope operator ::

This operator can be used in situations where a global variable exists with the same name as a local variable:
    #include <stdio.h>

        counter = 50;                   // global variable

    int main()
          for (int counter = 1;         // this refers to the 
             counter < 10;              // local variable
                    ::counter           // global variable
                    /                   // divided by
                    counter);           // local variable
        return (0);

2: cout, cin and cerr

In analogy to C, C++ defines standard input- and output streams which are opened when a program is executed. The streams are: Syntactically these streams are not used with functions: instead, data are read from the streams or written to them using the operators <<, called the insertion operator and >>, called the extraction operator. This is illustrated in the example below:

    #include <iostream.h>
    void main()

        cout << "Enter a number:" << endl;
        cin >> ival;
        cout << "And now a string:" << endl;
        cin >> sval;

        cout << "The number is: " << ival << endl
             << "And the string is: " << sval << endl;

This program reads a number and a string from the cin stream (usually the keyboard) and prints these data to cout. Concerning the streams and their usage we remark the following:

Whether a program uses the old-style functions like printf() and scanf() or whether it employs the new-style streams is a matter of taste. Both styles can even be mixed. A number of advantages and disadvantages is given below: The iostream library has a lot more to offer than just cin, cout and cerr.

3: References

Besides the normal declaration of variables, C++ allows `references' to be declared as synonyms for variables. A reference to a variable is like an alias; the variable name and the reference name can both be used in statements which affect the variable:
        &ref = int_value;

In the above example a variable int_value is defined. Subsequently a reference ref is defined, which due to its initialization addresses the same memory location which int_value occupies. In the definition of
ref, the reference operator & indicates that ref is not itself an integer but a reference to one. The two statements
    int_value++;            // alternative 1
    ref++;                  // alternative 2

have the same effect, as expected. At some memory location an int value is increased by one --- whether that location is called int_value or
ref does not matter.
References serve an important function in C++ as a means to pass arguments which can be modified. E.g., in standard C, a function which increases the value of its argument by five but which returns nothing (void), needs a pointer argument:

    void increase(int *valp)        // expects a pointer
    {                               // to an int
        *valp += 5;

    int main()

        increase(&x)                // the address of x is
        return (0);                 // passed as argument
This construction can also be used in C++ but the same effect can be achieved using a reference:
    void increase(int &valr)            // expects a reference
    {                                   // to an int
        valr += 5;

    int main()

        increase(x);                    // a reference to x is
        return (0);                     // passed as argument

Our suggestions for the usage of references as arguments to functions are therefore the following:

A number of differences between pointers and references is pointed out in the list below:

5: The `bool' data type

In C the following basic data types are available: void, char, int, float and double. C++ extends these five basic types with several extra types.

The type bool represents boolean (logical) values, for which the (now reserved) values true and false may be used. Apart from these reserved values, integral values may also be assigned to variables of type bool, which are implicitly converted to true and false according to the following conversion rules (assume intValue is an int-variable, and boolValue is a bool-variable):

        // from int to bool:
        boolValue = intValue ? true : false;

        // from bool to int:

        intValue = boolValue ? 1 : 0;
Furthermore, when bool values are inserted into, e.g., cout, then 1 is written for true values, and 0 is written for false values. Consider the following example:
    cout << "A true value: "  << true << endl
         << "A false value: " << false << endl;
Using the bool-type is generally more intuitively clear than using int. As a rule of thumb we suggest the following: If a function should inform its caller about the success or failure of its task, let the function return a bool value. If the function should return success or various types of errors, let the function return enum values, documenting the situation when the function returns. Only when the function returns a meaningful integral value (like the sum of two int values), let the function return an int value.

6: The `wchar_t' data type

The wchar_t type is an extension of the char basic type, to accomodate wide character values, such as the Unicode character set. Sizeof(wchar_t) is 2, allowing for 65,536 different character values.

Note that a programming language like Java has a data type char that is comparable to C++'s wchar_t type, while Java's byte data type is comparable to C++'s char type. Very convenient....

7: The `string' data type

The C programming language offers rudimentary string support: the ascii-z terminated series of characters is the foundation on which a large amount of code has been built. Standard C++ now offers a string type of its own. In order to use string-type objects, the header file string must be included in sources.

Actually, string objects are class type variables. The operations that can be performed on strings take the form


For example, if string1 and string2 are variables of type string, then

can be used to compare both strings. The string class offers a large number of these memberfunctions, as well as extensions of some well-known operators, like the assignment (=) and the comparison operator (==).

8: Data hiding: public, private and class

C++ contains special syntactical possibilities to implement data hiding. Data hiding is the ability of one program part to hide its data from other parts; thus avoiding improper addressing or name collisions of data.

C++ has two special keywords which are concerned with data hiding: private and public. These keywords can be inserted in the definition of a struct. The keyword public defines all subsequent fields of a structure as accessible by all code; the keyword private defines all subsequent fields as only accessible by the code which is part of the struct (i.e., only accessible for the member functions) (Besides public and private, C++ defines the keyword protected. This keyword is not often used and it is left for the reader to explore.). In a struct all fields are public, unless explicitly stated otherwise.