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Tip of the Day
Language: C++
Expertise: Beginner
Sep 15, 2000

Returning Aggregates from a Function

Both C and C++ allow you to return by value aggregates, e.g., structs and unions, from a function. However, the runtime overhead of returning large objects by value can be significant. This is why certain compilers issue a warning message when you return an aggregate from a function. For example:

 
Date current_date();

In most cases, you can avoid this inefficiency by passing a reference to the aggregate as an argument and write the result into that reference:

 
void current_date(Date & d); // improved form

This is more efficient than passing or returning large objects by value.

Danny Kalev
 
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