# type deduction

# Template parameter deduction for constructors

Prior to C++17, template deduction cannot deduce the class type for you in a constructor. It must be explicitly specified. Sometimes, however, these types can be very cumbersome or (in the case of lambdas) impossible to name, so we got a proliferation of type factories (like make_pair(), make_tuple(), back_inserter(), etc.).

This is no longer necessary:

std::pair p(2, 4.5);     // std::pair<int, double>
std::tuple t(4, 3, 2.5); // std::tuple<int, int, double>
std::copy_n(vi1.begin(), 3,
    std::back_insert_iterator(vi2)); // constructs a back_insert_iterator<std::vector<int>>
std::lock_guard lk(mtx); // std::lock_guard<decltype(mtx)>

Constructors are considered to deduce the class template parameters, but in some cases this is insufficient and we can provide explicit deduction guides:

template <class Iter>
vector(Iter, Iter) -> vector<typename iterator_traits<Iter>::value_type>

int array[] = {1, 2, 3};
std::vector v(std::begin(array), std::end(array)); // deduces std::vector<int>

# Auto Type Deduction

Type deduction using the auto keyword works almost the same as Template Type Deduction. Below are a few examples:

auto x = 27;           // (x is neither a pointer nor a reference), x's type is int
const auto cx = x;     // (cx is neither a pointer nor a reference), cs's type is const int
const auto& rx = x;    // (rx is a non-universal reference), rx's type is a reference to a const int

auto&& uref1 = x;      // x is int and lvalue, so uref1's type is int&
auto&& uref2 = cx;     // cx is const int and lvalue, so uref2's type is const int &
auto&& uref3 = 27;     // 27 is an int and rvalue, so uref3's type is int&&

The differences are outlined below:

auto x1 = 27;          // type is int, value is 27
auto x2(27);           // type is int, value is 27
auto x3 = { 27 };      // type is std::initializer_list<int>, value is { 27 }
auto x4{ 27 };         // type is std::initializer_list<int>, value is { 27 }
                       // in some compilers type may be deduced as an int with a 
                       // value of 27. See remarks for more information.
auto x5 = { 1, 2.0 }   // error! can't deduce T for std::initializer_list<t>

As you can see if you use braced initializers, auto is forced into creating a variable of type std::initializer_list<T>. If it can't deduce the of T, the code is rejected.

When auto is used as the return type of a function, it specifies that the function has a trailing return type.

auto f() -> int {
    return 42;
}

C++14 allows, in addition to the usages of auto allowed in C++11, the following:

  • When used as the return type of a function without a trailing return type, specifies that the function's return type should be deduced from the return statements in the function's body, if any.
    // f returns int:
    auto f() { return 42; }
    // g returns void:
    auto g() { std::cout << "hello, world!\n"; }
    
    
  • When used in the parameter type of a lambda, defines the lambda to be a [generic lambda](http://stackoverflow.com/documentation/c%2b%2b/572/lambdas/1969/generic-lambdas).
    auto triple = [](auto x) { return 3*x; };
    const auto x = triple(42); // x is a const int with value 126
    
    
  • The special form decltype(auto) deduces a type using the type deduction rules of decltype rather than those of auto.

    int* p = new int(42);
    auto x = *p;           // x has type int
    decltype(auto) y = *p; // y is a reference to *p
    
    

    In C++03 and earlier, the auto keyword had a completely different meaning as a storage class specifier that was inherited from C.

    # Template Type Deduction

    Template Generic Syntax

    template<typename T>
    void f(ParamType param);
    
    f(expr);
    
    

    Case 1: ParamType is a Reference or Pointer, but not a Universal or Forward Reference. In this case type deduction works this way. The compiler ignores the reference part if it exists in expr. The compiler then pattern-matches expr's type against ParamType to determing T.

    template<typename T>
    void f(T& param);      //param is a reference
    
    int x = 27;            // x is an int
    const int cx = x;      // cx is a const int
    const int& rx = x;     // rx is a reference to x as a const int
    
    f(x);                  // T is int, param's type is int&
    f(cx);                 // T is const int, param's type is const int&
    f(rx);                 // T is const int, param's type is const int&
    
    

    Case 2: ParamType is a Universal Reference or Forward Reference. In this case type deduction is the same as in case 1 if the expr is an rvalue. If expr is an lvalue, both T and ParamType are deduced to be lvalue references.

    template<typename T>
    void f(T&& param);     // param is a universal reference
    
    int x = 27;            // x is an int
    const int cx = x;      // cx is a const int
    const int& rx = x;     // rx is a reference to x as a const int
    
    f(x);                  // x is lvalue, so T is int&, param's type is also int&
    f(cx);                 // cx is lvalue, so T is const int&, param's type is also const int&
    f(rx);                 // rx is lvalue, so T is const int&, param's type is also const int&
    f(27);                 // 27 is rvalue, so T is int, param's type is therefore int&&
    
    

    Case 3: ParamType is Neither a Pointer nor a Reference. If expr is a reference the reference part is ignored. If expr is const that is ignored as well. If it is volatile that is also ignored when deducing T's type.

    template<typename T>
    void f(T param);       // param is now passed by value
    
    int x = 27;            // x is an int
    const int cx = x;      // cx is a const int
    const int& rx = x;     // rx is a reference to x as a const int
    
    f(x);                  // T's and param's types are both int
    f(cx);                 // T's and param's types are again both int
    f(rx);                 // T's and param's types are still both int
    
    

    # Remarks

    In November 2014, the C++ Standardization Committee adopted proposal N3922, which eliminates the special type deduction rule for auto and braced initializers using direct initialization syntax. This is not part of the C++ standard but has been implemented by some compilers.