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why can't derived class pointer can't point to base class object

Dear All,
According to OOPs , a base class pointer can to point to derived class
object....call this as fact1
But somehow I am not comfortable while understanding this concept.
The explanaition to the fact1 is given as since the derived object
always consists of the base part , the base class pointer will always
point to the base part in the derived object unless otherwise the
function in the base class are declared as virtual and are overrided in
the derived class.
My confusion is, since the derived class always consists of the base
class part in it,it should be more logical to think that the pointer to
the derived class can store the address of the base class object as it
will be always carrying the base class related services and data with
it.
This confusion gives me lot of headech while studying the COM and other
advanced concept . will someone please give me any good explaination or
justification of where my thinking process is going wrong(straying? ?)?.
I will be very grateful to him..

regds,
Yogesh Joshi

Jul 22 '05 #1
1 16251
yp*********@ind iatimes.com wrote:
Dear All,
According to OOPs , a base class pointer can to point to derived class
object....call this as fact1
But somehow I am not comfortable while understanding this concept.
The explanaition to the fact1 is given as since the derived object
always consists of the base part , the base class pointer will always
point to the base part in the derived object unless otherwise the
function in the base class are declared as virtual and are overrided in
the derived class.
My confusion is, since the derived class always consists of the base
class part in it,it should be more logical to think that the pointer to
the derived class can store the address of the base class object as it
will be always carrying the base class related services and data with
it.
This confusion gives me lot of headech while studying the COM and other
advanced concept . will someone please give me any good explaination or
justification of where my thinking process is going wrong(straying? ?)?.
I will be very grateful to him..


class A
{
public:
void f();
};

class B : public A
{
public:
void g();
};
Now, objects of type A can call f() and objects of type B can call
either f() or g().
int main()
{
A a;
B b;

a.f(); // ok
a.g(); // error

b.f(); // ok
b.g(); //ok

A *pa = &b; // ok
B *pb = &a; // that's illegal, but what if

pa->f(); // ok
pa->g(); // error

pb->f(); // ok
pb->g(); // ok !!! pb actually points to an A and As don't
// have g() !
}

By having pb point to a A, the compiler accepted the call to g(), even
if the object we are pointing at (actually a A) does not contain such
member function. That's because the function calls are checked on the
static type of the object (which is A*), not on the dynamic type (which
is B*).

You can implicitly cast pointers to a base class, because the compiler
is 100% sure the object pointed to *is a* base class (it is perhaps more
than that, such as a B or a C, but it is at least a base class). You
can not implicitly cast pointers to a derived class, because the
compiler cannot check if the object *is a* derived class.

void f(B *a)
{
// does a really point to a B?
}

void g1()
{
A a;
f(&a); // no it does not, so that must be illegal
}

void g2()
{
B b;
f(&b); // yes it does, so that's legal
}

There are (unfortunately) some circumstances where *you* know for sure
an A* is a B*, so you are able to do the cast explicitly. Using
dynamic_cast over static_cast can make things a bit more safer.
Jonathan
Jul 22 '05 #2

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