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Object Slicing in C++

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  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 22 Jul, 2022
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When a derived class object is assigned to a base class object in C++, the derived class object’s extra attributes are sliced off (not considered) to generate the base class object; and this whole process is termed object slicing. In simple words, when extra components of a derived class are sliced or not used and the priority is given to the base class’s object this is termed object slicing. 

In C++, a derived class object can be assigned to a base class object, but the other way is not possible. To tackle this slicing problem we can use a dynamic pointer.

Moreover, Object slicing happens when a derived class object is assigned to a base class object, and additional attributes of a derived class object are sliced off to form the base class object.

 

C++




// C++ program to demonstrate what is object slicing
class Base {
    int x, y;
};
 
class Derived : public Base {
    int z, w;
};
 
int main()
{
    Derived d;
 
    // Object Slicing,
    // z and w of d are sliced off
    Base b = d;
}

Object Slicing image

Object Slicing


C++




// C++ program to demonstrate the mechanism or working of
// of the object slicing technique
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
 
// Base class
class Base {
protected:
    int i;
 
public:
    Base(int a) { i = a; }
    virtual void
    display() // virtual function which is declared in base
              // class and re-declared in derived class
    {
        cout << "I am Base class object, i = " << i << endl;
    }
};
 
// Derived class
class Derived : public Base {
    int j;
 
public:
    Derived(int a, int b)
        : Base(a)
    {
 
        // assigning the value to the data members of
        // derived class
        j = b;
    }
    virtual void display()
    {
        cout << "I am Derived class object, i = " << i
             << ", j = " << j << endl;
    }
};
 
// Global method, Base class
// object is passed by value
void somefunc(Base obj) { obj.display(); }
 
int main()
{
    Base b(33);
    Derived d(45, 54);
    somefunc(b);
 
    // Object Slicing, the member j of d is
    // sliced off
    somefunc(d);
    return 0;
}

Output: 

I am Base class object, i = 33
I am Base class object, i = 45

We can avoid the above-unexpected behavior with the use of pointers or references. Object slicing doesn’t occur when pointers or references to objects are passed as function arguments since a pointer or reference of any type takes the same amount of memory. For example, if we change the global method myfunc() in the above program to the following, object slicing doesn’t happen. 

C++




// REFERENCE TO ABOVE
 
// rest of code is similar to above
void somefunc (Base &obj)
{
    obj.display();
}          
// rest of code is similar to above

Output: 

I am Base class object, i = 33
I am Derived class object, i = 45, j = 54

We get the same output if we use pointers.

One of the application of object slicing is seen when an object of derived class is passed to a function which takes object of base class as an argument. This has been demonstrated below.

Example:

C++




// rest of code is similar to above
void somefunc (Base *objp)
{
    objp->display();
}
 
int main()
{
    Base *bp = new Base(33) ;
    Derived *dp = new Derived(45, 54);
    somefunc(bp);
    somefunc(dp);  // No Object Slicing
    return 0;
}

Output: 

I am Base class object, i = 33
I am Derived class object, i = 45, j = 54

Object slicing can be prevented by making the base class function pure virtual thereby disallowing object creation. It is not possible to create the object of a class that contains a pure virtual method.
This article is contributed by Pravasi Meet. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or if you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.


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