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Anonymous objects in C++

Introduction to Anonymous objects in C++

Anonymous objects, or unidentified or temporary objects, are fundamental concepts in C++ programming. They refer to instances of a class that are created without assigning them to a named variable. Instead, they are used directly in expressions or function calls, serving a temporary purpose.

The primary concept behind anonymous objects is to simplify code and avoid unnecessary variable declarations. They are often employed when a short-lived object is required for a specific computation or operation. Let's delve deeper into anonymous objects' details, creation, usage, and implications.

In C++, objects are instances of classes or structures that encapsulate data and behavior. Typically, you create a named variable of that class type and manipulate it using member functions or access its data members to work with an object. However, there are scenarios where a temporary object can serve the purpose without needing a named variable. It is where anonymous objects come into play.

To create an anonymous object, you instantiate a class directly within an expression or function call. For example, consider a class called Rectangle with a member function calculateArea() that returns the area of the Rectangle. Instead of creating a named Rectangle object and then invoking the calculateArea() function, you can do it in a single step using an anonymous object:

In this code section, the Rectangle () expression creates an anonymous Rectangle object, and then the calculateArea() function is invoked. The resulting area is stored in the variable area.

Note: Since the anonymous object has no name, you can't refer to it later in the code.

Anonymous objects are commonly used when a temporary object is required for immediate computations or invoke a member function without the need for persistent storage. They are particularly useful in simplifying code and reducing the number of intermediate variables. Additionally, they can improve code readability by eliminating unnecessary clutter.

Another important application of anonymous objects is function arguments. Think of a function you have that accepts a value for a Rectangle object:

Instead of creating a named Rectangle object and passing it to the function, you can directly pass an anonymous object:

This approach is beneficial when the function doesn't need to store the Rectangle object beyond its execution.

While anonymous objects offer convenience and conciseness, they also have some implications to consider. First, since they are temporary, so their lifetime is limited to the expression or statement in which they are used. Once that expression or statement completes, the anonymous object is destroyed. Therefore, you cannot store their state or refer to them later in the code.

Additionally, using anonymous objects excessively can lead to readability issues and make the code harder to understand. They are best used when their purpose is clear, and the code remains concise and maintainable.

In terms of performance, using anonymous objects can have positive and negative effects. On the one hand, they eliminate the need for intermediate variables, potentially reducing memory usage. On the other hand, creating and destroying objects can have a small overhead, so using anonymous objects extensively in performance-critical sections might have an impact.

Creating and using anonymous objects:

Temporary Objects in C++:

Temporary or unknown or anonymous objects play an important role in C++ programming. They are created on the fly and exist only briefly, typically within the scope of a single expression or statement. Understanding how temporary objects are created, their lifetime, and their usage is crucial for writing efficient and effective C++ code.

Creation of Temporary Objects:

Temporary objects can be created in various situations. One common scenario is invoking a function that returns an object by value. For example:

Unnamed Objects:

Unnamed objects, also known as anonymous objects or temporary objects, are objects that are created without assigning them to a named variable. They are typically used when a temporary object needs to be created and used immediately without storing it for future use.

In C++, unknown objects can be created for any class or data type. Unidentified objects are generated, but they only last as long as the scope in which they are specified before being immediately deleted.

Here is an example of how to use items that are unfamiliar to you:


In this example, a simple MyClass prints messages in its constructor and destructor. Inside the main function, we create an unknown object of MyClass by invoking its constructor without assigning it to a variable.

When we compile and run this code, we get the following output:

Constructor called.
Destructor called.
End of the main function.

As you can see, the constructor of MyClass is called when the unknown object is created, and the destructor is called immediately after that, indicating that the object's lifetime is limited to that single line of code.

Unnamed objects are often used in expressions where the result is momentarily needed. For example, they can be used as function arguments:


In this example, we define a MyClass with a constructor that takes an int parameter. We also have a printValue member function to display the object's value. Inside the main function, we pass an unnamed object of MyClass as an argument to the processObject function. The unknown object is constructed with a value of 42 and immediately passed to the function.

The output of the program will be:

Processing object: Value: 42

Unknown objects can be particularly useful when working with overloaded operators. For instance, consider the following code:


Here, we define an operator+ function that adds two MyClass objects and returns a new MyClass object with the sum of their values. Inside the main function, we create two unknown objects of MyClass and add them using the overloaded + operator.

The output of the program will be:

Result: Value: 15

Lifetime and scope of anonymous objects

The lifetime and scope of anonymous objects in C++ are determined by their surrounding context and object lifetime rules in the language. Here's an explanation of the lifetime and scope of anonymous objects:

Creation and Initialization:

Anonymous objects are created and initialized at the point of their declaration. They can be created as function arguments or as temporary objects within expressions.


The scope of an anonymous object is limited to the immediate surrounding expression or statement where it is created. It is not accessible outside that particular expression or statement.


An anonymous object's lifespan lasts until the completion of the full expression in which it was formed. Once the expression is evaluated or the statement completes execution, the anonymous object is destroyed.

Temporary nature:

Anonymous objects are temporary and exist only for the duration required to evaluate the expression where they are used.

They are not assigned to named variables and are typically used for immediate calculations or as function arguments.

Resource management:

If an anonymous object acquires any resources (such as dynamic memory or file handles), it should release them before its lifetime ends.

Managing resources to avoid memory leaks or other issues is important.

Copy elision and move semantics:

C++ compilers often perform optimizations, such as copy elision or move semantics, to avoid unnecessary copies of anonymous objects.

These optimizations can improve performance by avoiding unnecessary object construction and destruction.

Understanding the lifetime and scope of anonymous objects is essential for proper resource management and avoiding potential issues in your C++ code.

Passing anonymous objects as function arguments

In C++, anonymous objects can be passed as function arguments like any other object. When passing anonymous objects as function arguments, you need to consider the following points:


Anonymous objects are passed directly as function arguments without being assigned to named variables.

The syntax for passing an anonymous object is the same as passing a named object.

Function signature:

An argument that matches the type of object being supplied should be present in the function that receives the anonymous object.

Object lifetime:

The lifetime of the anonymous object extends until the end of the expression or statement where it is created.

Ensure the function does not store or use a reference or pointer to the anonymous object beyond its lifetime.

Copy or move semantics:

Copy or move semantics may be employed depending on the function's parameter type and whether the object being passed is an lvalue or rvalue.

C++ compilers may optimize the copy/move operations using copy elision or move semantics.

Here's an example of passing an anonymous object as a function argument:


In this example, the point value function takes an int parameter, and we directly pass an anonymous object (the integer literal 42) as the argument.

Note: Anonymous objects are typically used for quick calculations or passing temporary values to functions. Suppose you need to reuse or have the object accessible beyond the function call. Assigning it to a named variable before passing it as an argument is recommended.

The output of the program will be:

Value: 42

Benefits and drawbacks of using anonymous objects

Using anonymous objects in C++ can have both benefits and drawbacks. Let's explore them:

Benefits of using anonymous objects:

Conciseness and readability: Anonymous objects allow you to perform calculations or invoke functions concisely and readably. They eliminate the need for intermediate named variables, reducing clutter in your code.

Improved code organization: Using anonymous objects lets you keep your code more organized and focused on the immediate task. It avoids cluttering your code with temporary variables that are only used once.

Simplified function calls: When passing arguments to functions, anonymous objects can simplify the syntax by directly passing the required values without assigning them to variables first. It can make function calls more streamlined and expressive.

Optimizations through copy elision: Anonymous objects can use copy elision optimizations. The compiler may skip unnecessary copy operations, improving performance by avoiding redundant object construction and destruction.

Drawbacks of using anonymous objects:

Limited reusability: Anonymous objects have a limited scope and lifetime, existing only within the expression or statement where they are created. Using a named variable would be more appropriate if you need to reuse the object or access it beyond that scope.

Difficulty debugging: Since anonymous objects do not have a name, debugging or tracking their values can be challenging during program execution. Named variables provide better visibility and traceability during debugging.

Potential resource management issues: If an anonymous object acquires resources such as memory or file handles, it becomes crucial to ensure proper resource management. Since their limited lifetime, releasing resources at the correct time can be more error-prone.

Reduced code clarity in complex expressions: While anonymous objects can improve code readability in simple cases, using them in complex expressions or nested statements may reduce clarity. It could make the code more challenging to comprehend and update.

Using anonymous objects to connect member function calls

Chaining member function calls with anonymous objects can be a concise and expressive way to perform a sequence of operations on a temporary object. Here's an example:


In this example, we create an anonymous object of MyClass and then chain the doSomething() and doAnotherThing() member function calls. The return type of these functions refers to the object (MyClass&), allowing the following member function calls to be invoked on the same object.

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