Narek Narek - 1 year ago 53
C++ Question

Conversion from Derived** to Base**

I was reading this and unfortunately could not understand in depth why the compiler does not allow conversion from Derived** to Base**. Also I have seen this which gives no more info than the's link.


Let us analyze this code line by line:

Car car;
Car* carPtr = &car;
Car** carPtrPtr = &carPtr;
//MyComment: Until now there is no problem!

Vehicle** vehiclePtrPtr = carPtrPtr; // This is an error in C++
//MyComment: Here compiler gives me an error! And I try to understand why.
//MyComment: Let us consider that it was allowed. So what?? Let's go ahead!

NuclearSubmarine sub;
NuclearSubmarine* subPtr = ⊂
//MyComment: this two line are OK too!

*vehiclePtrPtr = subPtr;

//MyComment: the important part comes here... *vehiclePtrPtr is a pointer to
//MyComment: a vehicle, particularly in our case it points to a Car object.
//MyComment: Now when I assign to the pointer to the Car object *vehiclePtrPtr,
//MyComment: a pointer to NuclearSubmarine, then it should just point to the
//MyComment: NuclearSubmarine object as it is indeed a pointer to a Vehicle,
//MyComment: isn't it? Where is my fault? Where I am wrong?

// This last line would have caused carPtr to point to sub!
carPtr->openGasCap(); // This might call fireNuclearMissle()!

Answer Source

It's basically the same reason why a bowl of bananas is not a bowl of fruits. If a bowl of bananas were a bowl of fruits, you could put an apple into the bowl, and it would no longer be a bowl of bananas.

As long as you only inspect the bowl, the conversion is harmless. But as soon as you start modifying it, the conversion becomes unsafe. This is the key point to bear in mind. (This is the precise reason why the immutable Scala collections actually allow the conversion, but the mutable collections prohibit it.)

Same with your example. If there was a conversion from Derived** to Base**, you could put a pointer to an apple were the type system promised only a pointer to a banana could exist. Boom!

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