Inheritance

1139 Words Oct 4th, 2011 5 Pages
Inheritance between classes
A key feature of C++ classes is inheritance. Inheritance allows to create classes which are derived from other classes, so that they automatically include some of its "parent's" members, plus its own. For example, we are going to suppose that we want to declare a series of classes that describe polygons like our CRectangle, or like CTriangle. They have certain common properties, such as both can be described by means of only two sides: height and base.

This could be represented in the world of classes with a class CPolygon from which we would derive the two other ones: CRectangle and CTriangle.

The class CPolygon would contain members that are common for both types of polygon. In our case: width and
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This public keyword after the colon (:) denotes the most accessible level the members inherited from the class that follows it (in this case CPolygon) will have. Since public is the most accessible level, by specifying this keyword the derived class will inherit all the members with the same levels they had in the base class.

If we specify a more restrictive access level like protected, all public members of the base class are inherited as protected in the derived class. Whereas if we specify the most restricting of all access levels: private, all the base class members are inherited as private.

For example, if daughter was a class derived from mother that we defined as: | class daughter: protected mother; |

This would set protected as the maximum access level for the members of daughter that it inherited from mother. That is, all members that were public in mother would become protected indaughter. Of course, this would not restrict daughter to declare its own public members. That maximum access level is only set for the members inherited from mother.

If we do not explicitly specify any access level for the inheritance, the compiler assumes private for classes declared with class keyword and public for those declared with struct.
What is inherited from the base class?
In principle, a
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