What are POD types in C++?


Question

I've come across this term POD-type a few times. What does it mean?

1
894
4/20/2018 10:32:10 AM

Accepted Answer

POD stands for Plain Old Data - that is, a class (whether defined with the keyword struct or the keyword class) without constructors, destructors and virtual members functions. Wikipedia's article on POD goes into a bit more detail and defines it as:

A Plain Old Data Structure in C++ is an aggregate class that contains only PODS as members, has no user-defined destructor, no user-defined copy assignment operator, and no nonstatic members of pointer-to-member type.

Greater detail can be found in this answer for C++98/03. C++11 changed the rules surrounding POD, relaxing them greatly, thus necessitating a follow-up answer here.

637
5/23/2017 12:18:21 PM

Very informally:

A POD is a type (including classes) where the C++ compiler guarantees that there will be no "magic" going on in the structure: for example hidden pointers to vtables, offsets that get applied to the address when it is cast to other types (at least if the target's POD too), constructors, or destructors. Roughly speaking, a type is a POD when the only things in it are built-in types and combinations of them. The result is something that "acts like" a C type.

Less informally:

  • int, char, wchar_t, bool, float, double are PODs, as are long/short and signed/unsigned versions of them.
  • pointers (including pointer-to-function and pointer-to-member) are PODs,
  • enums are PODs
  • a const or volatile POD is a POD.
  • a class, struct or union of PODs is a POD provided that all non-static data members are public, and it has no base class and no constructors, destructors, or virtual methods. Static members don't stop something being a POD under this rule. This rule has changed in C++11 and certain private members are allowed: Can a class with all private members be a POD class?
  • Wikipedia is wrong to say that a POD cannot have members of type pointer-to-member. Or rather, it's correct for the C++98 wording, but TC1 made explicit that pointers-to-member are POD.

Formally (C++03 Standard):

3.9(10): "Arithmetic types (3.9.1), enumeration types, pointer types, and pointer to member types (3.9.2) and cv-qualified versions of these types (3.9.3) are collectively caller scalar types. Scalar types, POD-struct types, POD-union types (clause 9), arrays of such types and cv-qualified versions of these types (3.9.3) are collectively called POD types"

9(4): "A POD-struct is an aggregate class that has no non-static data members of type non-POD-struct, non-POD-union (or array of such types) or reference, and has no user-define copy operator and no user-defined destructor. Similarly a POD-union is an aggregate union that has no non-static data members of type non-POD-struct, non-POD-union (or array of such types) or reference, and has no user-define copy operator and no user-defined destructor.

8.5.1(1): "An aggregate is an array or class (clause 9) with no user-declared constructors (12.1), no private or protected non-static data members (clause 11), no base classes (clause 10) and no virtual functions (10.3)."


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