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Chapter 10. Classes > Introduction

10.1. Introduction

The aim of the C++ class concept is to provide the programmer with a tool for creating new types that can be used as conveniently as the built-in types. In addition, derived classes (Chapter 12) and templates (Chapter 13) provide ways of organizing related classes that allow the programmer to take advantage of their relationships.

A type is a concrete representation of a concept. For example, the C++ built-in type float with its operations +, -, *, etc., provides a concrete approximation of the mathematical concept of a real number. A class is a user-defined type. We design a new type to provide a definition of a concept that has no direct counterpart among the built-in types. For example, we might provide a type Trunk_line in a program dealing with telephony, a type Explosion for a videogame, or a type list<Paragraph> for a text-processing program. A program that provides types that closely match the concepts of the application tends to be easier to understand and easier to modify than a program that does not. A well-chosen set of user-defined types makes a program more concise. In addition, it makes many sorts of code analysis feasible. In particular, it enables the compiler to detect illegal uses of objects that would otherwise remain undetected until the program is thoroughly tested.


  

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