Discuss C++ Template Downcast

This is a discuss in C board in bbs.sjtu.edu.cn, about type down-cast in C++ template.

The problem

Today I read a book about we can do cast-down in template, so I write this to test:

template <bool _Test, class _Type = void>
struct enable_if { };

template<class _Type>
struct enable_if<true, _Type> {
    typedef _Type type;

class A { };
class B : A { };

template <typename T>
struct traits { static int const value = false; };

template <>
struct traits<A> { static int const value = true; };

template <typename T>
void f(T, typename enable_if<traits<T>::value>::type* = 0) { }

template <>
void f<A>(A, enable_if<traits<A>::value>::type*) { }

template <typename T>
class BB {};

template <typename T>
class DD : public BB<T> {};

template <typename T> void ff(BB<T>) {};

int main(int argc, char * argv[])
    A a; B b;
    DD<long> dd;

It is strange when f it don't allow my specified f<A>` .

But in ff it allowed ff<BB<long>>` .

Tested under VC10 and GCC3.4

My answer to the problem

Let's think ourself as compiler to see what happened there.

Define mark # : A#B is the instantiated result when we put B into the parameter T of A<T> .

First we discuss ff

DD<long> dd;

After this sentense, the compiler saw the instantiation of DD<long> , so it instantiate DD#long , and also BB#long .


This sentense required the compiler to calculate set of overloading functions.

Step 1 we need to infer T of ff<T> from argument DD#long -> BB<T> . Based on the inference rule:

Argument with type :code:`class_template_name<T>` can be use to infer :code:`T``.

So compiler inferred T as long . Here if it is not BB but CC which is complete un-related, we can also infer, as long as CC is a template like CC<T> .

Step 2 Template Specialization Resolution. There is only one template here so we matched ff<T> .

Step 3 Template Instantiation

After inferred long -> T , compiler instantiated ff#long .

Set of available overloading functions : {ff#long}

Then overloading resolution found the only match ff#long` , checked its real parameter DD#long can be down-cast to formal parameter BB#long .

Then we discuss f


Calculate set of overloading functions.

Step 1 infer all template parameters for template f . According to inference rule:

Parameter with type T can be used to infer T 。

So B -> T is inferred.

Step 2 Template Specialization Resolution.

Here B is not A so we can not apply specialization of f<A> , remaining f<T> as the only alternative.

Step 3 Template Instantiation.

When we put B into f<T> to instantiate as f#B , we need to instantiate traits#B` .

There is no specialization for B so we use template traits<T> , traits#B::value=false , so enable_if#false didn't contains a type , an error occurred.

The only template is mismatch, available overloading functions is empty set. So we got an error.

This is part 1 of the "YSSY_C" series:

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