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Learn C++ in 12 days - Day 1

Written By Ente Malayalam on Friday, May 24, 2013 | 5/24/2013

Before going directly in to the depth of c++, we will jus brush up some basic things related to it. When I start teaching u C++, the first question arising from u will be wats the use of C++ when U have a beautiful lang. like C in ur hands. To answer this q I hav to start from the scratch. Scratch in the sense, s/w evolution.
            The growth of s/w systems can be compared to the growth of a tree. As u know tree grows in layers. In the same manner s/w systems also grows in layers or I can call it as diff phases. Each layer s built one after the other for the past few decades, and each layer having some improvement over the other. Now since we compared tree n s/w systems, let me tell u one thing, the only basic difference in the growth of tree n s/w systems is that in tree only the outermost layer is functional where as in s/w sys each n every layer continues to be functional.
            Now if am trying the sketch the schematic of this s/w evolution, it will like this

                                                Machine Lang.
                                                Assembly Lang.


                                                Procedural Lang.


                                                Object model Lang.

We will be concentrating only on object model languages, but to answer our prev q we will have to compare PL with OO.

Procedural Lang:
            Before I start this let me tell u something. All this programming layers are jus a way in which a given prog is organized and developed. It s not concerned with any particular programming Lang.
            In general computer Lang deals with two concepts – data and algorithms. Data constitutes the information a program uses and processes and algorithms are the methods that the program uses.
            Procedural Lang emphasizes the algorithm side of programming. In proc Lang, each statement in this prog tells the compiler to do something a prog in a proc Lang is a set of instructions.
            Now consider I have a prog where in I have to get input, add and find the avg. of the values and print the output. It’s a small prog n one person can easily sit n type it without any difficulty. But as the complexity of the program increases, difficulty in coding, maintaining and debugging also increases. For eg: lets consider a real world eg. Lets say a washing machine program. Hope everyone knows that our washing machine is running on a particular s/w. It is having so many functionalities. For e.g.: spin, wash, temperature control etc. Now a single person sitting and typing the entire code is not going to be that feasible. He may code it. But debugging becomes a Herculean task. So procedural language provides us with the flexibility of dividing / modularizing our entire program into smaller independent units known as modules which can be handled by individuals. And the object modules created separately will be linked together at the end to get the real world solution.

Now as we know for every good thing, we hav some bad things associated with it. In the same manner in the above method also, even though it provides simplicity in working, there are few disadvantages associated with it.
All this time we were giving importance to the way in which the program is getting done n we never thought about the data associated with the functions. In a large prog which s split up in to functions, there will be some local data associated with each function. At the same time, there will be some values which have to be kept global so that it can be used by all functions present in that program. These global data will be moving freely around the program. For eg: in the above case, jus consider a weight variable which is declared as global variable. This weight variable may need to get manipulated by spin and wash. But since it s a global variable, even ur temp_cntl module and other module have access over it.


The chances of these data getting corrupted by any of these functions are very very large. So at the end u might hav completed Ur big project without compile time errors but the output u r getting won’t be the one what u want. ie) data corruption occurs in the program. So instead of running for 40 kgs it may run for 20 or 140 kgs. This data insecurity was considered as a major draw back in procedural languages which made it not that suitable for real world application. .
Another problem associated with procedural languages is here the code and data is kept apart or in other words the code and data is not related. If I take C as an example for a procedural language, in C language, units of code called functions and units of data called structures are not formally connected even if the functions are supposed to act on structures. A C function can operate on more than one type of structure and more than one function can act on same structure which makes us say that they are not related.
For eg : consider a structure corresponding to a student.
struct Student
            char Name[20];
            int marks;
This structure will need some functions to act up on it. As per C standards, we will be writing these functions as global functions. Lets say
            void Add_Details(char *, int);
            void Calculate_Percentage();
Since we are modeling something known as a student, we will expect the functions Add_Details(char*, int) and Calculate_Percentage() to act on only the structure student and not on any other real world model like teacher. But in our C language, we don’t have any flexibility where in we can restrict these functions to act only on these structures or vice-versa. This makes real world modeling very inefficient in procedural approach.

            These two major disadvantages forced the development of next layer in the s/w evolution termed as object model languages.

Object model languages;
Since in procedural languages, the greatest disadvantage was the negligence of data, in object model languages data was considered as a critical element in program development. It binded data unit more closely with the functions or to the code acting upon this data there by restricting the free flow of data around the system. And this binded unit is termed as objects in object model languages.

The data of an object can be accessed only by the member functions associated with the object n objects can communicate with each other through member functions. The member functions of one object won’t be able to access the data of another object. This type of programming helps preventing data from getting corrupted by the unnecessary intervention of other functions. So in OML, a real world problem is visualized in terms of collection of objects communicating with each other.
Let’s talk a little more in detail about all these concepts. As a software engineer, our ultimate aim is to find a real world solution for a real world problem. As I already told you, in OML, the real world solution we find will always be in terms of collection of objects. We have already seen the technical or I should say a very basic definition for objects. Ie_ a binded unit of data and functions acting upon the data
            But when we do reverse engineering, to find a solution for the real world problem, first we should know what are the things in the real world which can be visualized as objects and what are the features of the objects which can be considered as data and what are the features of an object which can be considered as functions.
            In a real world problem, an object can be considered as an instance of a real world entity (entity means something which has an existence). But the reverse statement, ie) the instances of all real world entities are objects may not be true. A real world entity can be considered as an object only if it has
1.      an identity           
2.      a state
3.      a behavior

Identity always refers to a particular name / uniqueness of the real world entity which makes it distinct from other entities. A state refers to an existing condition or position or a particular thing of an entity and behavior corresponds to the set of actions this entity can perform and which can sometimes result in change of one or more states.
Let’s take a real world example and explore the above mentioned things. Let’s say the real world problem in my hands is “Car dealership system” .
The first thing we have to do here is , we need to get the exact problem statement. Ie) what exactly does the system expects us to do. Let say, here  the
Problem statement is : 
“Design a website for the car dealership system where in customer should be able to see different cars present with the dealer and their entire details. He should also be able to have a virtual driving experience with his own configuration of the car. Once he has decided on the car, he should be able to do transactions for buying the car and ultimately dealer should be able to keep in track of the orders made by the customer.”

Once we have the problem statement in our hands, the next step we should do is trace out the real world entities which are interacting with the system. In this system, the main three real world entities you can trace out is
  1. Car
  2. Customer
  3. Dealer
The next thing is to trace out those functionalities or requirements related to the above real world entity.
If you consider Customer, the things / functionality he may want to do in the system is
1.      View the details of car present.
2.      Virtual driving experience
3.      Configure the car
4.      Buy the car etc
As far as dealer is concerned he may want to
5.      Keep in track of the orders.
6.      Include / Exclude cars etc
As far as car is concerned, its functionalities can be
7.      Start engine
8.      Apply accelerator
9.      Apply break
10.  Switch on / off ac etc
I am tracing out only few here. Work with this, u will get more use cases.  

Since we are going to solve this problem using OML, we need to trace out those real world entities in this system which are objects. Let’s take the example of car and let s see how to do it.

Car :
            We are going to see if the real world entity called car have state, behavior and identity so that we can consider it as an object. Sticking on to the definition of states : states of a car can be
  1. Running state
  2. Stopped state
  3. Colour
  4. Seating capacity
  5. Model Name
  6. Engine number
If you stick on to the definitions of behavior, we can see that the functionalities we listed can be directly considered as the behaviors of car. Ie:
  1. Start Engine
  2. Applying accelerator
  3. Applying break
  4. Switch on / off ac etc
We know that technically object is a collection of data and function. Usually states traced out for the real world entity will be mapped into data of an object and behaviors will be the functions.
Why I used to term mapped between states and data is : data is something to which I can assign some value. But if you see the states, we cannot assign values directly to some of the states. For eg : running state and stopped state : I cannot assign a value directly to it. So if I need to trace out those attributes / characteristic quality behind these states which can be considered as data. For eg: for the above two states, I can consider the attribute behind it as speed and mileage. So speed and mileage becomes data of car if ever car is considered as an object. Because of this reason , the terms data and attributes are used interchangeably. The other two states, colour and Model Name can be directly considered as data.
            Concentrating a little more on the attributes : we can see that the attributes colour and model name doesn’t change even when car performs an action. Usually we call such states as static attributes. On the other hand, the attributes speed and mileage gets changed when actions like applying accelerator or switch on / off ac is performed. So we usually call such attributes as dynamic attributes.


The above picture / structure is just a blueprint or a frame work for each and every car constructed. Or I can say it is a generalization of the concept of car. There will be thousands of other cars in existence, all of the same make This blue print is termed as classes in OML.
So the above as we said is just a plan. So when does a car come into existence. Only when we create an instance of that plan right. and how do we identify between different car. By its registration no. so lets say we have two car : ka 03 mh 6517 and ka 03 mh 9657. So these no s is acting as an identity for the cars here and since they are from the same plan, they will be having its own states and behaviors. So we call these two cars as the objects here.
Ultimately we concluded that the real world entity car can be mapped into an object.
            We will be talking more about classes and objects in our future classes. So lets go back to our OML. In OML, every real world problem will be mapped to a collection of objects and classes.

Object model languages are classified into two types.
  1. object oriented languages
  2. object based languages

For the time being just remember the classification. Once we are done with the general introduction to OOP’s we will come back to the difference between these two.

Object oriented languages :

            As we already learned, since OOP’s is part of OML, it is also based on classes and objects. Now our aim is to find solutions for real world problems using object oriented programming concepts. To ensure that the increasing complexity of s/w systems are met, OOP’s strictly ensures that the programmers follow specific design strategies / principles while using object oriented programming techniques. In today’s class we are going to c what are the design strategies to be followed in OOP’s.
            The basic design strategies are
  1. Abstraction
  2. Separation
  3. Establishing relationships.

Abstraction :
            Abstraction is a design technique that focuses on the essential aspects of an entity and ignores or conceals less important or non-essential aspects. Abstraction is an important tool for simplifying a complex situation to a level where analysis, experimentation, or understanding can take place
            Abstraction is concerned with both the "attributes" and "behavior". As we told before attributes refer to the properties or characteristics associated with an entity. Attributes typically correspond to the data that is recorded for an object. The "behavior" represents the set of actions that the object can perform. An action usually corresponds to an action that the real-world entity might perform.
            Let’s take the same car dealer ship system as an example and try to find what abstraction is, based on that.
            Let’s take the entity Dealer. Dealer is a normal person in this real world. As a person, he has an identity, a family genealogy, a medical history, a genetic profile, a credit record, a set of talents, and many more. Similarly there is a rich set of actions of which the dealer is capable (singSong, doDance, haveChild, getSick, increaseCreditLimit, payBills, etc.). Trying to capture even a small part of this enormous detail in a software object is pointless. What is important is to capture those aspects of a "dealer" that are relevant to the development of the car dealership system. This capturing of aspects relevant to a particular application is termed as abstraction. So showing the abstraction from the actual details diagrammatically :

                  So from the above abstraction, the attributes and the behaviour can be diagrammatically represented as below.

The structure of abstraction shown above for the dealer can be considered as a blue print for each and every sales person in that company. So we can call it as a class. A specific member of this group, say john smith refers to the object of this class.
It is important to realize that a single entity may have many valid abstractions. While the genetic profile of a salesperson is not relevant to a sales tracking system, it may be relevant to a medical database system. This alternative abstraction is shown in the figure below..

Abstraction is vital to creating tractable software objects because the real-world objects are far too complex to be captured in complete detail.

Visualizing the object / abstraction is over. The next step is separation.

            Generally speaking, separation refers to distinguishing between a goal or effect and the means or mechanism by which the goal or effect is achieved. This is often stated as separating "what" is to be done from "how" it is to be done. This is not a term completely related to s/w. If you see your day to day life, two words used in the same way is goal and plans. For eg: as a student your goal is to get placed in an mnc. And the plan to achieve the goal is doing hard work. Or in mechanical terms, we can use it as product and process and in s/w terms we can use it as interface and implementation.
            We will be sticking on to the definition of separation as separating the interface and implementation.  The interface is viewed as the visible, external aspect of the software that must be understood to use the software. The implementation is viewed as the hidden, internal aspect of the software that is important only to the implementor. It is this form of separation that is considered  as the actual definition of separation.

                        Visible             :           interface

                        Hidden            :           implementation

For eg: consider your lift. The interface given to u is to press the necessary buttons to reach a particular floor and how it is implemented internally is not known to us. Another eg is commands like read(f, buffer, nbytes). This is the interface. The user knows that the command is to transfer nbytes of data from file f to the specified buffer. The mechanism required to achieve this effect involves the disk hardware, software device drivers, the file system, the disk block management code, and run-time I/O library routines, none of which need be mentioned in the description of the read command.

Interchangeability of Implementations

One interface can have more than one implementations. For eg: a lift can be implemented either using electricity or even using a battery. An implementation can be considered as satisfying an interface, if the behavior defined by the interface is provided by the implementation. This provides flexibility to implementers because different implementations may satisfy the same interface. The several implementations may differ in time or space efficiency, purchase price, maintainability, documentation quality, reliability, or other non-functional characteristics. If separation is fully observed, one implementation for a given interface can be replaced by a different implementation of that interface without altering the overall operation of the larger system of which it is a part. The ability to associate different implementations with the same interface is shown in the above figure.

Now talking about separation in object oriented programming: abstraction and separation are always talked together. In the beginning itself I was telling you that in an object, data and the code which is acting on the data is binded together such that the access to the data with in the objects is only through the code in that object.
Here implementation can be considered as the data and the implementation of the methods hidden inside the object and interface refers to signature of all methods visible outside the object.
            The hiding of the object’s implementation details is often termed as encapsulation.  Or encapsulation refers to the restriction of access to data within an object to only those methods defined by the object's class

We have visualized class and objects and we have separated our interface and implementation. Now, take any real world entity. For eg : An eg is an aircraft system which consists of numerous small systems. Aircraft is having a propulsion system, a control system, navigation systems etc. you can c that it consists of different components interacting together to achieve the behaviour of aircraft. The different components refer to classes here. So the next step is to organize our classes such that it represents a complex real world system. That s exactly what the next step is.

Establishing Relationships: 

Now in our example, the whole system is made of numerous small components / entities. Let me list few among the different entites here.
            Car or different types of car and different components of car like Engine, Piston, Radiator, Wheels, Ac, Stereo, Customer, Dealer etc.
Using abstraction and encapsulation we have designed all the components individually. To consider it as a whole system called car dealership system, all these individual components have to work together in a co-operative manner. In terms of implementation, to make them work together, we need to establish proper relationships among the different components.
            Lets try to do it now.
  1. If you consider the relationship between car and customer, both of them related for a specific functionality called “buy”. In the same manner, dealer and car is also related for a specific functionality called “sell”. Here any change in the entity car is not going to have an effect on the so called customer or dealer. Such a relationship is termed as Association. Let me represent it diagrammatically as below.
  1. If you consider the relationship between Car, Engine, Wheel and Car, Ac and Stereo, one thing you can notice here is both the categories hold a “has a ” relationship. ie) car has an engine or ca has a wheel and in the same manner car has an ac or car has a stereo. Or we can say that car is composed of engine, wheel, ac and stereo. Broadly we call such relationship as Aggregation. Again, if you consider the strength of relationship in the two categories, engine and wheel is having a stronger relationship with car than ac and stereo. Or in other words, the so called car doesn’t have any existence without an engine or wheel. This type of tightly coupled relationships are known as Composite aggregation. Where as Ac and stereo which is having a week relationship or loose coupling with car or which has standalone existence is said to have a Shared aggregation with car. Let me put it diagrammatically as below.     

            The same composite aggregation holds good for engine, piston and radiator as       shown above.

  1. If I consider Car and different types of car like racing cars, maruthi, Honda , Hyundai etc, we can say that racing car is a car or maruthi or Honda or Hyundai is a car. Or simply I can say that Car and the different types of car is having an “is a” relationship. It is more technically termed as generalization. Let me represent it diagrammatically as below.

  1. Finally let me consider one final entity, Racing road. As you know, racing road at some point may be flat or may have humps etc. Usually for Race cars, the parameter called suspension height (the distance between wheel and body) varies according to the type of the road. Ie) suspension height decreases if road is flat or it increases if the road has hump so that ground clearance (the distance between road and body..the lesser the ground clearance the more stable the vehicle) is always minimum. Keeping all these things in mind, I can say that Race Cars “uses” or “depends on” race roads or race tracks. Or more technically we can  call it as dependency relationship. let me represent it diagrammatically as below.                                                                                                     Racing Car-------------------------------------> Race Track
If you notice we can see that dependency is very similar to association. How you have to distinguish is, in dependency unlike association, the change in one entity will cause a change in another entity. Here change in type of race   track results in change in suspension height of race car.

Now we have a broad diagrammatic representation of the whole system in our hands. In our future classes, we will technically implement all these things which we mentioned theoretically.


            In today’s class you can see different notations used by me especially while discussing relationships. These notations are part of something known as UML. Please go back and try to collect some basic knowledge about UML and come back to tomorrow’s class. We will have a chit chat on that in tomorrow ‘s class.

Reference :

OOAD : Grady Booch

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