Inheriting constructors


Question

Why does this code:

class A
{
    public: 
        explicit A(int x) {}
};

class B: public A
{
};

int main(void)
{
    B *b = new B(5);
    delete b;
}

Result in these errors:

main.cpp: In function ‘int main()’:
main.cpp:13: error: no matching function for call to ‘B::B(int)’
main.cpp:8: note: candidates are: B::B()
main.cpp:8: note:                 B::B(const B&)

Shouldn't B inherit A's constructor?

(this is using gcc)

1
195
3/7/2012 6:39:17 AM

Accepted Answer

If your compiler supports C++11 standard, there is a constructor inheritance using using (pun intended). For more see Wikipedia C++11 article. You write:

class A
{
    public: 
        explicit A(int x) {}
};

class B: public A
{
     using A::A;
};

This is all or nothing - you cannot inherit only some constructors, if you write this, you inherit all of them. To inherit only selected ones you need to write the individual constructors manually and call the base constructor as needed from them.

Historically constructors could not be inherited in the C++03 standard. You needed to inherit them manually one by one by calling base implementation on your own.

348
1/30/2019 4:05:17 PM

Constructors are not inherited. They are called implicitly or explicitly by the child constructor.

The compiler creates a default constructor (one with no arguments) and a default copy constructor (one with an argument which is a reference to the same type). But if you want a constructor that will accept an int, you have to define it explicitly.

class A
{
public: 
    explicit A(int x) {}
};

class B: public A
{
public:
    explicit B(int x) : A(x) { }
};

UPDATE: In C++11, constructors can be inherited. See Suma's answer for details.


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