Reading

Section 12.1 of Problem Solving with C++.

Struct Quadrilateral - Tying together what we've done

I want to think about creating a struct to represent quadrilaterals, i.e. polygons with four sides. This should tie together much of what we've already done. One thing we're going to do is reuse code. This idea is very dear to those of us who are lazy ... which definitely includes me. A quadrilateral is defined by its four vertices, which are of course points, and we've done points to death already. As a matter of fact, going through the lecture notes, I find at least all these definitions for dealing with points (OK, I might've added in the overloaded << and >>, but they look so nice!). And we could round this out to include subtraction of points, or I/O, or whatever else we wanted. Instead of reinventing the wheel, let's reuse this code. Given this, I'll represent a quadrilateral by the four points that are its vertices, and in the context I have in mind, I'll also give each quadrilateral a character that acts as a label. The struct for quadrilateral, which I'll call Quad, has the following simple definition:
struct Quad
{
  char label;
  point *vert;
};
Here's a simple main() using the struct. All it does is read in a Quad and print it back out again. Notice how I create an object of type Quad. It takes two steps, one actually creates the Quad object, and one allocates the array of four points that stores the vertices.
int main()
{
  // Create quadrilateral S
  Quad S;
  S.vert = new point[4];

  // Read label and vertices
  cout << "Enter label and 4 vertices: ";
  cin >> S.label;
  for(int i = 0; i < 4; i++)
    cin >> S.vert[i];

  // Write label and vertices
  cout << "Your quadrilateral is " << S.label << " ";
  for(int j = 0; j < 4; j++)
    cout << S.vert[j] << ' ';
  cout << endl;

  return 0;
}
This gives us a pretty good look at how we've done things so far, and you can look at the complete program to make sure you see how all these pieces fit together.

Breaking programs into pieces

Looking at the program we just wrote, you should see that it breaks up into two obvious pieces - the old code, which is all the point stuff, and the new code, which is the Quad definition and the main function. Furthermore, the point stuff falls into two obvious pieces - the struct definitions & function prototypes, and the function definitions.
Prototypes for point stuff New code - definition for Quad and main Definitions for point-related functions
#include <iostream>
#include <fstream>
using namespace std;

/*********************************************
 ** PROTOTYPES & STRUCT DEFINITIONS
 *********************************************/
struct point
{
  double x, y;
};
void read(point &p, istream &IN);
void write(point p, ostream &OUT);
point operator+(point a, point b);
point operator/(point P, double z);
ostream& operator<<(ostream& OUT, point p);
istream& operator>>(istream& IN, point &p);
struct Quad
{
  char label;
  point *vert;
};

int main()
{
  // Create quadrilateral S
  Quad S;
  S.vert = new point[4];

  // Read label and vertices
  cout << "Enter label and 4 vertices: ";
  cin >> S.label;
  for(int i = 0; i < 4; i++)
    cin >> S.vert[i];

  // Write label and vertices
  cout << "Your quadrilateral is " << S.label << " ";
  for(int j = 0; j < 4; j++)
    cout << S.vert[j] << ' ';
  cout << endl;

  return 0;
}
/*********************************************
 ** FUNCTION DEFINITIONS
 *********************************************/
void read(point &p, istream &IN)
{
  char c;
  IN >> c >> p.x >> c >> p.y >> c;
}

void write(point p, ostream &OUT)
{
  OUT << '(' << p.x << ',' << p.y << ')';
}

point operator+(point a, point b)
{
  point S;
  S.x = a.x + b.x;
  S.y = a.y + b.y;
  return S;
}

point operator/(point P, double z)
{
  point Q;
  Q.x = P.x / z;
  Q.y = P.y / z;
  return Q;
}

ostream& operator<<(ostream& OUT, point p)
{
  write(p,OUT);
  return OUT;
}

istream& operator>>(istream& IN, point &p)
{
  read(p,IN);
  return IN;
}
It's fairly natural, then, to split our original program up into three files: point.h, main.cpp, and point.cpp. Now, to use the struct point and all of its related functions, we really only need the function prototypes and struct definition - the definitions of the functions don't really concern us as users of point. We only care about what's available for us to use, not how it works. So, the file main.cpp begins with the line:
#include "point.h"
which means literally pretend that the entire contents of point.h was typed in starting at this point. Thus, as far as the compiler is concerned, it's like that struct definition and all those prototypes were right there.

You'll notice that point.cpp also begins with #include "point.h", since those function definitions won't make sense to the compiler without the definition of the struct point and the prototypes. So, your compiler views your program as consisting of two files, main.cpp and point.cpp, both of which use point.h. It's perfectly willing to compile point.cpp, saying "I believe there is a main function somewhere that's going to use these function definitions. And the compiler is perfectly willing to compile main.cpp saying "I believe there are some .cpp files somewhere that define these functions that main uses and whose prototypes are given in the included file point.h. Then, when the program is linked, these two compiled pieces are brought together (along with any standard library code we need) to form a complete program.

Breaking programs up into separate files this way doesn't really change what you can or can't do, but it makes it much easier to organize your code, and it makes it much easier to reuse structs and functions from previous programs. In fact, your start thinking of big programs as different modules to write: each module containing a .h file (or header file) that gives the outside world all the information it needs to use the module, and a .cpp file that contains the source code that implements the module (i.e. that tells the compiler how all these functions really work). What you saw up above was a very simple point module. One key thing that's missing from my simple point module, however, is documentation. The header file needs a lot of documentation so that the user of the module understands how to use the struct and the various functions the module offers. They don't need to know how it works, but they do need to know what it does!

Static Arrays

There are two types of arrays in C++. What we've seen are called dynamic arrays, because the size of the arrays can change from run to run of the program. If your program creates and array to store data in a file, and the file (rather than you the programmer) is what determines how many elements ought to be in the array, the size of the array is bound to change from run to run of the program, because the file may change.

The other kind of array is static A static array has its size determined when the program is compiled, so from run to run of the program the array's size is always the same. A static array wouldn't work for a program that reads in data from a file that contains an unknown amount of information. How big should you the programmer make the array? You don't know. Dynamic arrays are more general - anything you can do with static arrays you can do with dynamic arrays, and then some. However, in some instances static arrays are simple - for example if you wanted to hardcode the names of the days of the week into a program. You know the size will be 7, so there's no point in making a dynamic array.

The syntax for creating a static array is a little bit different than for creating a dynamic array.

Creating an Array of 6 ints
Static ArrayDynamic Array
int A[6]
int *A = new int[6]

Using the array after its been created is pretty much the same for either. One difference is that if A is a static array, the pointer A cannot be changed. The contents of the array to which it points can, of course, be changed. But not the pointer itself. Other differences are best illustrated by an example.

The above program uses arrays to store the vertices of a quadrilateral. Since we know that a quadrilateral always has exactly four vertices, we could use static arrays.

struct Quad
{
  char label;
  point vert[4];
};
To understand the difference between this version of Quad and the previous version, consider this picture:

You see that in the static array version the array of vertices is embedded in the Quad object. In the dynamic version, the pointer is embedded in the object, while the array is outside of the object, somewhere else in memory. Compare the static array version of main with the dynamic array version of main.

The above picture really tells you all you need to know to understand the difference between using static and dynamic arrays ... when you really can use static arrays. Let's look at one example to see what consequences arise from this picture. Suppose that I have a Quad object S that contains the label 'Q' and the vertices (0,0) (1,0) (1,1) (0,1). Then suppose we run the following code:

Quad R;
R = S;
R.label = 'P';

for(int i = 0; i < 4; i++)
  R.vert[i] = R.vert[i].x + 1;
So, I create a copy of S, which I call R. I then add one to the x-coordinate of each vertex of R. Suppose I then print out S and then I print out R. What will I get? Well, it depends whether I'm using the static version of Quad or the dynamic version:

Static VersionDynamic Version
Q (0,0) (1,0) (1,1) (0,1)
P (1,0) (2,0) (2,1) (1,1)
Q (1,0) (2,0) (2,1) (1,1)
P (1,0) (2,0) (2,1) (1,1)

Why the difference? Look at the picture!

Dynamic VersionStatic Version

This is not a reason to use static over dynamic, but it is a good example of how and why they behave differently. Here's another example: how does swap(A,B) behave differently for two Quads, A and B, with the dynamic versus static array versions of Quad? Once again, the picture should tell you that while the result it the same, a lot more work gets done in the static case, where the entire contents of the arrays are swapped, rather than simply the pointers.

Problems

  1. Look at this program from last lecture. The program uses a point struct and a struct hhmmss. Break the program up into separate point and hhmmss modules, and of course a main file. We have the following pieces: Of course, you split off a third module for the struct datum, but it seems less likely to be reused, so there's a less compelling reason for doing it.
  2. Write a program that reads a date in mm/dd/yyyy format and prints it out in "dd monthname yyyy" format. It might be helpful to know that a static array can be initialized with a list of values in { }'s. For example, an array of the first 10 prime numbers can be constructed like this:
    int prime[10] = {2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29};
    Note: this is purely about static arrays, it doesn't concern structs at all. Here's my solution.


Asst Prof Christopher Brown
Last modified: Mon Nov 15 16:42:39 EST 2004