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Variadic Templates in C++

In this article, we will discuss the Variadic Templates in C++ with its example.

What are Variadic Templates?

Variadic templates are class or function templates that accept any variable (zero or more) number of arguments. Only a set number of parameters that must be supplied at the time of declaration are allowed for templates in C++. However, variadic templates aid in resolving this problem. Variadic templates are developed by the Jaakko Jrvi and Douglas Gregor.

In many ways, variable arguments are identical to C++ arrays. It is simple to loop through the parameters, determine the template's length, access values using an index, and slice the templates. In essence, functions that accept a variable number of arguments are functions with variable function templates.


It has the following syntax:

  • With the introduction of variable templates in C++11, programmers working in C++ can now develop code that utilizes a variable amount of template arguments due to this strong and adaptable feature.
  • This feature creates various opportunities for writing type-safe, flexible, and generic code.
  • A key component that allows us to develop flexible code that handles a variety of data types without compromising type safety is templates.
  • They are frequently employed in developing functions, algorithms, and data structures that can work with various kinds of data.

This versatility is increased with variable templates. They let us to define variables as template arguments for functions, classes, and data structures. It implies that we can write code that adjusts to various specifications, regardless of how many arguments we need to work with.


Let's take an example to determine the use of variadic templates in C++:


Variadic Templates in C++

Explanation of the above code:

  1. The sum function, which is meant to be recursive and works with any number of inputs of the same type, implements the main logic in this code. Here's a detailed breakdown of how it operates:
  2. Base Case (T value + T sum):
    • It is the recursion's termination condition. It returns the value of T, the only argument that remains to be added, as the outcome.
    • There are no more parameters to add at this point, therefore the recursion ends.
  3. T sum(T first, Rest... rest) is a recursive case:
    • The situation where there are several arguments that need to be added up is handled in this case.
    • The initial argument to be added to the sum is denoted by T.
    • The rest of the arguments are represented by the parameter pack rest... rest.
  4. Calling sum(rest...) adds the first argument to the total of the remaining arguments. It is the point of recursion.
  5. The recursion keeps going until it hits the base case, which is one argument, at which point it begins to unwind.

The reasoning flow is broken down as follows:

  • Sum returns the single argument supplied if we call function with just one argument.
  • The first parameter is added to the total of the remaining arguments when we use the sum function with multiple arguments.
  • The sum process begins to unwind when there is just one parameter remaining, at which time the process repeats recursively.
  • This reasoning is demonstrated by the code in the main function, which calls the sum function with various kinds and quantities of parameters. The sum function computes the sum for each set of parameters when it is called with integers and doubles.
  • The major lesson is that we can design a single function (sum) that is type safe and flexible enough to accommodate different numbers and kinds of arguments. It is made possible by variadic templates and recursion.

Utilization Purpose of Variadic Templates:

In C++, variable function templates are utilized for many purposes:

  1. Flexibility:
    • We can write functions that take a variable number of arguments by using templates for variable functions.
    • This adaptability comes in very handy when we have to design code that can handle varying numbers of parameters and fit diverse contexts.
  2. Generality:
    • Writing generic and reusable code is made easier with the use of variable templates.
    • They increase the versatility of the code by allowing us to write functions and classes that handle a wide range of data kinds and argument counts.
  3. Type Safety:
    • Variadic function templates aid in preserving type safety in C++, a strongly typed language.
    • The type of each parameter is retained, and we can use the template to carry out type-specific operations.
  4. Elegance:
    • By removing the necessity for overloading functions or the use of laborious constructs like arrays or vectors to provide arguments, variable function templates can help us to write more elegant and concise code.
  5. MetaProgramming:
    • Variadic templates are an essential component of C++ metaprogramming.
    • They make it possible to generate and manipulate sophisticated code at compile time, which is helpful for building flexible and effective libraries and frameworks.
  6. Consistency:
    • For functions that must handle varying quantities of arguments, variable templates can offer a consistent interface. It can improve the intuitiveness and usability of your API.
  7. Performance:
    • Variadic function templates can result in more efficient code when utilized appropriately.
    • They can reduce the need to store arguments in data structures like arrays or vectors, which may improve runtime performance and reduce memory overhead.

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