CS253: Software Development with C++

Spring 2018

Increment Methods

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CS253 Increment Methods


If you’re writing a class that is numeric or pointery, then it needs:

None of these come for free. You have to write them all.


Preincrement is easy:

  1. Change the state of the object
  2. Return the object by reference
    Whatever &operator++() {	    // No argument means preincrement
        // Do what is needed to change the object
        // which might be *this += 1;
        return *this;

Fast & efficient—no copying is required.


Postincrement is harder, but can be the same for nearly all classes:

  1. Save a copy of the object
  2. Change the state of the object
  3. Return the copy by value
    Whatever operator++(int) {	    // Dummy int arg means postincrement
        const auto save = *this;
        ++*this;		    // Call the preincrement method
        return save;

Less efficient—need to make a copy, and return by value.


Pre-/post-decrement is essentially the same. Get pre-/post-increment working, and then (I can’t believe that I’m saying this) use copy & paste.

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Modified: 2018-04-24T16:53

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