The year 1979 marked the ingenious evolution of C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup. C++ offers programmers the opportunity to develop high-performance applications in conjunction with a diverse array of salient C++ features. The following is an introduction to some of the most powerful features of C++.
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Powerful Features of C++
1. Object Oriented Programming
Unlike C, a procedural language, C++ is an object-oriented programming (OOP) language. OOP helps modularize and maintain a program efficiently. It improves code clarity, code readability, troubleshooting and makes it easier to incorporate modifications without any significant restructuring. Moreover, OOP employs the use of objects to execute real-time problems based on five substantive concepts.
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a. Data Abstraction
If we were to consider programming akin to the process of metamorphosis, data abstraction could be viewed as a cocoon. The objective is to hide irrelevant information from the end-user. The end-user does not have to concern themselves with internal changes in the data code or the method applied to obtain it. Only the required data essential for the program’s smooth functioning is privy to the user, barring any complex, intrinsic detail.
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b. Data Encapsulation
If data abstraction is the objective, data encapsulation is the technique to achieve it. Using encapsulation, relevant data and its associated methods and functions are bundled together into an exclusive block.
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c. Data Hiding
Although used synonymously with data encapsulation, there exists a fundamental difference. Data encapsulation is about shifting focus to essential aspects of the data. Contrarily, data hiding aims to secure a particular program code by protecting the data from unauthorized access.
Inheritance refers to creating a created child class (derived class), acquiring its parent class’s properties and functionalities (or base class). Inheritance guarantees the reusability of the code. In other words, if a code has to be improved, there is no requirement to rewrite the code from scratch. This helps minimize the program’s redundancy and facilitates the easy transfer/replication/copy of properties from one class to another.
Etymologically, polymorphism can be deconstructed as ‘poly’ (meaning ‘many’) and ‘morphism’ (meaning, ‘forms’). Therefore, polymorphism facilitates flexible programming by displaying data in more than one form. This is usually implemented as either operator overloading or function overloading. Operators and functions can be used with as many objects as necessary.
2. Machine Independent
Here, machine independence (or portability) refers to the ability to transfer instructions from one operating environment to another. C++ employs the principle of WORA (Write Once, Run Anywhere). For instance, if you write a program in Microsoft Windows, and for some reason, have to make a switch to LINUX, your original program code will work in the same fashion. However, C++ is not platform-independent. This implies that the compiler will generate an OS-dependent .exe file, which cannot be run on different operating systems.
C++ is user-friendly. It provides a structured and comprehensive approach, with a syntax that closely mirrors C. In fact, C++ is popularly referred to as “C with classes”. C++ offers a bottom-up approach, such that any project development can be deconstructed into its respective logical units and parts. Additionally, it provides a rich set of in-built library functions and a variety of data types.
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4. Intermediate Level Programming Language
As an intermediate-level language, it supports the features of both a low-level (machine-level) language and a high-level language. It is less cryptic and closely associated with a human-readable and human-comprehensible language, that is, English.
C++ has been designed to be a compiled language. This means that it is generally translated into machine language that the system can directly understand. The resultant generated program is thus highly efficient and relatively much faster than PYTHON or JAVA, which is interpreter-based.
6. Dynamic Memory Allocation
Memory in C++ can be divided into two parts-stack and heap. The stack refers to the memory that is allocated for variables that are declared inside the function. Contrarily, the heap refers to unused memory that can be allocated dynamically. For instance, if you are unaware of the memory requirement to store information in a defined variable, the memory size can be manually determined during runtime. This is achieved using a special operator called the new operator, which returns the address of the space allocated. If not in need, you can use the delete operator to deallocate memory.
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7. Integration and Extendability
Many tools in C++, such as style and coding convention checkers, code optimizers, program visualizers and incremental compilers, rely on a continually updated database that contains semantic information extracted from source programs. Additionally, new programming techniques create a need for an extension. C++ has the potential to adopt and integrate newer features and knowledge acquisition easily.
C++ has been ranked fourth by TIOBE Index, 2019. C++ features offer countless benefits that have been used widely and effectively. These include mobile app developments, game developments, software development (e.g., Adobe Premiere, Image Ready), web browser development (e.g., Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox) and core banking applications (e.g., Infosys Finacle).
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The range of powerful features of C++ makes C++ a unique, ubiquitous and widely popular choice for novice programmers stepping foot into the programming world.
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What is object-oriented programming?
A programming language is said to be object-oriented if it allows the programmer to create objects (which are like bundles of data and the procedures that act on that data) and to create new objects based on existing objects. Object oriented programming is a programming style in which data and behavior are packaged in a single unit called an object. In object-oriented programming, a program is a collection of objects and each object contains some data and functions (methods). Each object has an identity but does not need to know about the other objects. This is different from procedural programming where each function represents an action, and the programmer must define the function before it can be called.
What is polymorphism in programming?
Polymorphism is the technique used in object-oriented programming to provide the interface between objects. It's a type of dynamic binding. Polymorphism is defined as - Ability of an object to take on different forms. Polymorphism allows the programmer to create a general class which is used for different types of data. For example, a programmer can define a class which can add two integers, and a method which will then be used to add the two integers. The programmer can then use the class wherever they want to add two integers. So here, the ability to add integers is a generalized concept, however when the programmer uses it, they are able to add the specific integers they want to add. With the help of polymorphism, the general concept of the class is used in different forms.
What is inheritance in programming?
Inheritance is a special case of the 'is-a' relationship between objects. In simple words, class A inherits all the properties of class B, and also adds some new properties of its own. For example, a vehicle is a kind of transport, but it also has wheels, doors and engine, which are properties of a vehicle and not of transport.