Computer languages have undergone dramatic evolution since the first electronic computers were built to assist in telemetry calculations during World War II. Early on, programmers worked with the most primitive computer instructions: machine language. These instructions were represented by long strings of ones and zeroes. Soon, assemblers were invented to map machine instructions to human-readable and -manageable mnemonics, such as ADD and MOV.
Until recently, programs were thought of as a series of procedures that acted upon data. A procedure, or function, is a set of specific instructions executed one after the other. The data was quite separate from the procedures, and the trick in programming was to keep track of which functions called which other functions, and what data was changed. To make sense of this potentially confusing situation, structured programming was created.
C++ fully supports object-oriented programming, including the four pillars of object-oriented development: encapsulation, data hiding, inheritance, and polymorphism. Encapsulation and Data Hiding When an engineer needs to add a resistor to the device she is creating, she doesn't typically build a new one from scratch. She walks over to a bin of resistors, examines the colored bands that indicate the properties, and picks the one she needs. The resistor is a "black box" as far as the engineer is concerned--she doesn't much care how it does its work as long as it conforms to her specifications; she doesn't need to look inside the box to use it in her design.
The question inevitably arises: "Since C++ is a superset of C, should I learn C first?" Stroustrup and most other C++ programmers agree. Not only is it unnecessary to learn C first, it may be advantageous not to do so.
When you are writing a program, it is always clear and self-evident what you are trying to do. Funny thing, though--a month later, when you return to the program, it can be quite confusing and unclear. I'm not sure how that confusion creeps into your program, but it always does.
- Emiley J
While main() is a function, it is an unusual one. Typical functions are called, or invoked, during the course of your program. A program is executed line by line in the order it appears in your source code, until a function is reached. Then the program branches off to execute the function. When the function finishes, it returns control to the line of code immediately following the call to the function.
Normally, your program flows along line by line in the order in which it appears in your source code. The if statement enables you to test for a condition (such as whether two variables are equal) and branch to different parts of your code, depending on the result.
In C++, an exception is an object that is passed from the area of code where a problem occurs to the part of the code that is going to handle the problem. The type of the exception determines which area of code will handle the problem, and the contents of the object thrown, if any, may be used to provide feedback to the user.
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