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Explain what is upcasting in C++?

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Explain what is upcasting in C++?
posted Mar 8, 2016 by Mohammed Hussain

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3 Answers

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Upcasting is converting a derived-class reference or pointer to a base-class. In other words, upcasting allows us to treat a derived type as though it were its base type. It is always allowed for public inheritance, without an explicit type cast. This is a result of the is-a relationship between the base and derived classes.

answer Mar 8, 2016 by Vishi Gulati
0 votes

Upcasting

Upcasting is converting a derived-class reference or pointer to a base-class. In other words, upcasting allows us to treat a derived type as though it were its base type. It is always allowed for public inheritance, without an explicit type cast. This is a result of the is-a relationship between the base and derived classes.

Here is the code dealing with shapes. We created Shape class, and derived Circle, Square, and Triangle classes from the Shape class. Then, we made a member function that talks to the base class:

void play(Shape& s) 
{
   s.draw();
   s.move();
   s.shrink();
   ....
}

The function speaks to any Shape, so it is independent of the specific type of object that it's drawing, moving, and shrinking. If in some other part of the program we use the play( ) function like below:

Circle c;
Triangle t;
Square sq;
play(c);
play(t);
play(sq);

Let's check what's happening here. A Triangle is being passed into a function that is expecting a Shape. Since a Triangle is a Shape, it can be treated as one by play(). That is, any message that play() can send to a Shape a Triangle can accept.

Upcasting allows us to treat a derived type as though it were its base type. That's how we decouple ourselves from knowing about the exact type we are dealing with.

Note that it doesn't say "If you're a Triangle, do this, if you're a Circle, do that, and so on." If we write that kind of code, which checks for all the possible types of a Shape, it will soon become a messy code, and we need to change it every time we add a new kind of Shape. Here, however, we just say "You're a Shape, I know you can move(), draw(), and shrink( ) yourself, do it, and take care of the details correctly."

The compiler and runtime linker handle the details. If a member function is virtual, then when we send a message to an object, the object will do the right thing, even when upcasting is involved.

Note that the most important aspect of inheritance is not that it provides member functions for the new class, however. It's the relationship expressed between the new class and the base class. This relationship can be summarized by saying, "The new class is a type of the existing class."

class Parent {
public:
  void sleep() {}
};

class Child: public Parent {
public:
  void gotoSchool(){}
};

int main( ) 
{ 
  Parent parent;
  Child child;

  // upcast - implicit type cast allowed
  Parent *pParent = &child; 

  // downcast - explicit type case required 
  Child *pChild =  (Child *) &parent;

  pParent -> sleep();
  pChild -> gotoSchool();

  return 0; 
}

A Child object is a Parent object in that it inherits all the data members and member functions of a Parent object. So, anything that we can do to a Parent object, we can do to a Child object. Therefore, a function designed to handle a Parent pointer (reference) can perform the same acts on a Child object without any problems. The same idea applies if we pass a pointer to an object as a function argument. Upcasting is transitive: if we derive a Child class from Parent, then Parent pointer (reference) can refer to a Parent or a Child object.

Upcasting can cause object slicing when a derived class object is passed by value as a base class object, as in foo(Base derived_obj).

answer Mar 9, 2016 by Manikandan J
0 votes

Upcasting:

First we will look into the upcasting. Converting the derived class pointer to the base class pointer or converting the derived class reference to the base class reference is called as upcasting. It allows public inheritance without the need for an explicit type cast.

A Derived object is-a relationship with the base class. The derived class can get the properties of base class, nothing but it can inherit the data members and member function of the base class.

Means, anything that we can do to a Base object, we can do to a Derived class object.

answer Mar 9, 2016 by Ashish Kumar Khanna
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