What happens when a function is called before its declaration in C?
In C, if a function is called before its declaration, the compiler assumes the return type of the function as int.
For example, the following program fails in the compilation.
if the function char fun() in the above code is defined later to main() and the calling statement, then it will not compile successfully. Because the compiler assumes the return type as “int” by default. And at declaration, if the return type is not matching with int then the compiler will give an error.
The following program compiles and run fine because function is defined before main().
What about parameters? compiler assumes nothing about parameters. Therefore, the compiler will not be able to perform compile-time checking of argument types and arity when the function is applied to some arguments. This can cause problems. For example, the following program compiled fine in GCC and produced garbage value as output.
There is this misconception that the compiler assumes input parameters also int. Had compiler assumed input parameters int, the above program would have failed in compilation.
It is always recommended to declare a function before its use so that we don’t see any surprises when the program is run (See this for more details).
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