The Object Magazine Online Interview:

Bjarne Stroustrup

Object Magazine Online: What is your favorite software tool or environment? I'd ask what's your favorite programming language first, but that would be somewhat rhetorical!

Bjarne Stroustrup: Maybe; C++ is indeed my favorite programming language. However, we should always remember that there are lots of interesting and useful programming languages. Nobody who knows one programming language should consider himself a professional programmer or designer. Learning a new programming language or a new programming technique is a delight. We ought to try hard not to get too busy to experiment with new tools, languages, and techniques.

UNIX is still my favorite environment.

OMO: I agree on the language front. As for special purpose languages; I just created a new Web version of the comp.object FAQ by utilizing perl's pattern matching and report writing capabilities -- it went much faster than if I had used C or C++. I also prefer and was bred on UNIX, although I see PCs as having their place.

What is your favorite Pattern?

BS: I don't (yet?) think in terms of named patterns; I think in terms of techniques and fundamental examples. However, I often find uses for the "factory" pattern. In particular, that is the pattern that allows me to create objects of an unknown derived class where a piece of code requires only knowledge of a common -- more general -- base. Together with extensive use of abstract classes, this pattern allows me to write applications that rely directly on abstract classes only, and thus allows me to write applications and library modules that have very minimal and well-defined dependencies on environments. A traditional name for a variant of the factory pattern in the C++ community has been "virtual constructors."

OMO: I've used virtual constructors on many occasions, so they seem quite useful. What is your favorite component model and which do you think will win out in the long run? Examples are CORBA, DCOM, OpenDoc, Beans/RMI, etc.

BS: I don't have a favorite. I live in hope that something far more elegant and/or general will come along. The models you mention all seem too large, too complicated, too hard to use, too hard to integrate with a programming language, too proprietary, or incur too much overhead to be ideal.

And no, I don't have an alternative. It seems to me that there is something fundamental missing, but I have not been able to put my finger on it. I'm looking for something that allows synchronous and asynchronous calls to coexist smoothly, something that can be closely integrated into a variety of programming languages, and something where modules loaded into a single address space can communicate as efficiently as two classes compiled together. To deliver all we require of a component model, such a model must be complex, but does that complexity really need to be visible to a novice? To someone doing something fundamentally simple? I doubt it.

OMO: Excellent point. What is your favorite software methodology? And what do you think about the UML?

BS: I'm not personally a user of diagrams, and what little I have read about the UML had an unpleasent messianic tone to it that obscured the technical content. This may be a case where it does make sense to "shoot the messenger," though, because the fundamental ideas seem sound.

When I get a bit of time, I'll try to see if UML can model the C++ standard library simply and accurately. If so, it should be able to handle much of what will become interesting in the future; if not, it has become stuck with a limiting view of what software is. The STL (the containers, algorithms, and iterators framework) is a good test of elegant composition of software and from independent parts.

OMO: Good points. I think we often just hear the hype and best wishes, like with the component models. How important a role do you think methodologies play in software development today? I know you discuss this subject in The C++ Programming Language,1 but could you briefly summarize your latest views?

BS: And I thought that reducing the discussion of design to a single chapter with two supporting chapters of examples was pretty extreme! I think that the focus on all software development must be on concepts and the understanding of the application domain.

Java comes nowhere near my ideals for a general-purpose programming language.

For larger projects, the rules and processes we call methods are necessary, for smaller projects less-rigorous approaches are often preferable. Methods are too often used in attempts to compensate for lack of direction, for lack of a conceptual framework for the system being built, and a lack of concepts in the programming used. A method is not a substitute for thinking and understanding. Methods should be applied flexibly enough to accomodate the varying talents, tastes, and weaknesses of a diverse manager, designer, and programmer population.

That said, I favor an approach to design roughly along the lines of Booch -- probably with a greater emphasis on general concepts and static structure than is fashionable. For details, see Part IV of The C++ Programming Language (third edition).

OMO: What is your favorite operating system, and what computer do you work on everyday?

BS: I use UNIX on an antique SPARC station and on an SGI. I run Windows 95 and NT on my laptop.

OMO: Are you much of a Web surfer?

BS: I use the Web. I probably visit a dozen sites a day, but the Web isn't central to my life. Email is still much more important to me. I download the odd technical article, and buy the odd item, but much of the information I find on the Web is too fragmented, unreliable, and ideosyncratic for real learning. I guess the Web has in a short period of time become a valuable resource for me, but I still don't rely on it for anything essential.

I maintain a set of homepages with a fair amount of information about C++: You can find a few of my papers there, together with descriptions of my books, errata, a FAQ, links to C++ related sites, etc.

OMO: Thanks for the reference -- it will be assimilated into the new OO FAQ, Appendix E;-) What do you think about Java?

BS: Not much. It's a fairly uninteresting language and a very interesting sociological phenomenon, but it's peripheral to my professional interests.

People who insist on comparing Java to C++ should take a look at my design criteria for C++ in The Design and Evolution of C++.2 They will see that Java comes nowhere near my ideals for a general-purpose programming language.

OMO: I've always seen Java as having libraries for graphics and Web work. But do you think there's room for other programming languages?

BS: In addition to C++? :-) Certainly. No oneprogramming language comes anywhere near serving all the diverse needs of current programmers. In theory, there could be a single general-purpose programming language. However, I think differences in emphasis, different intellectual traditions, and differences in taste will ensure that several will exist. In addition, there will always be a need for a plethora of specialized languages.

Also, knowing several languages is simply interesting and also good for you.

OMO: I've heard this before, that learning several languages avoids a mindset on any particular one -- a good principle in general. What do you think will come of the current Microsoft/Sun debate over Java?

BS: The "debate" is pretty disgraceful, but inevitable given Sun's attempt to establish Java as an alternative platform to Windows and as a programming language to the exclusion of all other programming languages. It is really a food fight fought by means foul and fair. It gives little credit to either side and appears to hurt innocent bystanders (though the C++ community seems mostly unaffected and growing as usual).

I think the result will be several almost-compatible Java variants and a fair number of platform-specific libraries. Sun, MS, and probably others want a Java that is platform independent yet runs better on their own platform than on platforms supplied by competitors. This will ensure that genuine platform independence for nontrivial applications will remain an elusive goal.

OMO: I have the new third edition of The C++ Programming Language, famous successor to The C Programming Language otherwise known as K&R. Is this the last and final edition, and could you tell us a little about it?

BS: Well, you can't write the final book on a living language. However, we now have an ISO C++ standard so my 3rd edition has a more durable subject matter than its two predecessor. The 1st edition had a useful life of more than five years and the 2nd was still a bestseller in its sixth year when the 3rd was published. Based on that, it seems reasonable to predict a useful life of at least seven years for the 3rd edition.

I think the real importance of my 3rd edition is that the programming techniques supported by C++ have matured. Language features are in themselves just boring; what is interesting is the programming and design techniques they exist to support, the ways in which the language features can be used to provide elegant, efficient, and maintainable systems.

The primary aim of the 3rd is to serve as an introduction for experienced programmers and for C++ programmers who want to catch up with all that has happened over the last few years. Experienced programmers deserve better than the thin fare that is typically offered to novices. I try not to insult the intelligence of my readers. My 3rd edition can also serve as a user-level reference because all major language features and standard library facilities are presented. I think that so much has been learned about how to use C++ effectively that many people's view of C++ is completely outdated.

Well, you can't write the final book on a living language.

My 3rd describes all the new language features that people expect from a modern C++ book: exceptions, templates, runtime type identification, namespaces, etc. It also describes, all the new library facilities: containers, algorithms, numeric support, strings, parameterized io streams, etc. However, the emphasis is on the programming and design techniques that these facilities support. Also, I don't forget the basics: C compatibility, programming in the styles commonly used for C, use of concrete and abstract classes, programming using class hierarchies, etc.

I find C++ a more pleasant language to use and to describe these days and I take advantage of that to present it in ways that are easier to understand. The new standard library is a great help here.

OMO: You mention C++ is a "living language," in that it may continue to grow and change. Will/could there be a new standard and in what respects is C++ still alive/changing?

BS: Every ISO standard has to be revised, reconfirmed, or withdrawn every five years. I have no doubt that changes will be made starting about six years from now. During these five year cycles [we need to develop] a mechanism for handling defect reports and resolving the problems they point out exist.

What I meant is that so much work is being done using C++ and so many experiments are performed that it is inconcievable that there won't be changes after the period of stability caused by the standard. If nothing else, many new techniques will be developed and many interesting libraries will see heavy use. Such activities can significantly affect the way to describe and teach a language even if no changes are made to the language definition.

OMO: What would you say are the most influential forces in the computing industry today? You could just name a few favorites.

BS: Or a few villans? Maybe the most influential and most destructive current is the pervasive push to dumb down computing. We don't seem to be able to educate enough smart people to get our systems built well. This is made far worse by the incessant push to deliver systems immediately.

Given that we can either invest in better tools for competent systems builders with a solid understanding of their application domains or we can try to simplify and foolproof our tools to the point where someone not too bright and without much education can produce something acceptable. I fear that the second approach is the most popular and inevitably leads to unreliable bloatware. Just about anything that counters that trend is on my list of favorites.

Better education at all levels comes high on my list, and by that I mean a demanding blend of theory and practice for bright people -- not leveling down. The patterns movement and the push for better design deserve praise. I think better programming languages are part of a solution, but it can only be a part. Someone who thinks that a better programming language can "solve the software crisis" is sadly deluded. Anyway, the question of what constitutes a better programming language is fraught with both politics and genuine hard problems.

OMO: I agree on the education and advanced learning forefront -- when I last taught a C++/UML course I tended to talk about the more sophisticated topics, such as sibling communication through virtual inheritance or DMI and class combinatorial solution idioms, but to students just learning what a class is. Perhaps I was a little off...but I do put proper use in context.

BS: We should be careful to present novices -- even experienced programmers who are novices with C++ -- with a coherent set of concepts supported by simple examples before progressing to really advanced stuff.

I remember almost despairing of learning Ada because the Ada people I listened to were busy impressing each other with how advanced their understanding of Ada was and how fantastically complicated [the] cases they could handle [were]. I thought "if that's what it takes to understand Ada and use it, I'm not sure that I want to." Then, I decided that they were just showing off and things were simpler than they appeared.

OMO: Do you think C++ will find its way into Web computing? How?

It ought to, and it ought not be too hard to do. I think that as services mature, C++'s flexibility, efficiency, and facilities for coping with complexity will come to good use. However, it will happen only if someone makes it their business to make it happen. We need C++ libraries for doing "Webbish" things. In the absence of basic library support, it is easier to use special-purpose tools and languages. I don't know if such C++ Web-service support libraries exist or are being built, but I'd like to see some.

OMO: Mike's article in this issue points us to Object Media, where a number of the core Java libraries have been implemented in C++.

But do you have any ideas on what the future model may look like? For example in contrast to Java, where applets travel to browsers on demand and perhaps in contrast to CGI, which runs on a server and uses dynamic HTML to communicate with users. Do you have any ideas on what the future of Web programming should be, or perhaps where C++ should play the greatest role?

BS: I would rather not be specific, because I don't know enough to be certain about anything. C++ seems well-suited for server-side stuff. However, it needs libraries for common things such as page presentation, simple animation and statistics gathering to be effective in terms of the average service provider's time.

You can get C++ interpreters and other mechanisms that allow downloading of C++ code. However, I'm worried about automatic download of code -- in any language -- from a server to my machine.

Security is harder than most people are willing to believe and much more important. As more money starts to flow though the Web, more crooks will find it worthwhile to develop the tools and the sophistication needed to divert some of that flow. Also, as we start placing more information on our computers our personal lives gets vulnerable to viruses, etc. I expect to be keeping many of my photographs and many of my financial records on computers soon. I'm worried what accidental damage I can do to my own information, and I'm rather concerned what a random bit of code from a random person somewhere in the world might do.

I think my ideal language for downloaded code is far simpler and far less powerful than what is being discused and deployed today: "almost braindead" would be a reasonable criteria for anything that needs to pass through a firewall -- and we should all have firewalls. Does your company allow applets through their firewall? JavaScript? Dynamic HTML? Visual Basic macros?

OMO: Good point -- we should all start being more careful. Now that they're all finished, how satisfied are you with the results of the C++ standardization efforts?

BS: I'm very happy with C++ as it emerged from the standards process. No major feature that I know how to provide is missing and no major feature that I would seriously like to remove is present.

In particular, I'm very pleased that we (that is, the C++ Standards Committee of which I have been an active member) managed to accept the STL framework of efficient and type-safe containers (such as vector, list, and map) and fundamental algorithms (such as find, sort, and accumulate). This closes the most glaring hole in C++ as commonly shipped. Until now, we haven't had a standard set of containers.

The standard library makes it far simpler to teach C++. No longer do we have to start out with low-level pointer manipulation to accomodate C-style arrays and strings. Instead, we can use appropriate container types and strings and thereby postpone the discussion of lower-level concepts until students are ready to deal with them. Importantly, the standard containers and the string class manage the storage for their elements and expand as needed. This means that memory management becomes completely automatic for simple programs and far simpler than it used to be for larger systems.

Naturally, the 3rd edition [of the C++ Programing Language explains this in some detail. It also relies on the standard library to ease the introduction of concepts.

OMO: What's next? Will there be another iteration to C++? Another language?

BS: I designed C++ because I couldn't find a programming language that served my needs. I would design another language only if I again found a problem for which no existing language was a good tool/solution. C++ is a perfectly good solution to most of the problems I face in my daily work, and for the tasks where it is not, alternatives exist.

Currently, I'm working on some internal AT&T projects. In part, I'm trying to broaden my experience and to learn about new and interesting problems. The AT&T network is one of the worlds largest, most complicated, and most reliable distributed systems. With the rapid evolution of the telecommunications industry, there is no shortage of interesting problems.

OMO: In the new C++ standard, there are many additions such as templates for casting, including for checked downcasting, which already exist in the language. I believe these are called static and dynamic casts. Did you create this new notation, and why are they there?

BS: Yes, I was the one who invented the dynamic_cast syntax to parallel the syntax for explicitly qualified template function calls. Together with Dmitry Lenkov from HP, I was the proposer of the runtime type identification (RTTI) mechanisms.

OMO: Are you a big fan of Streams?

BS: I was the one who invented streams, and I find the general concept most attractive.

RTTI is easily overused. However, for loosly-coupled systems where objects are passed between separately-developed subsystems, RTTI is inevitable. The dynamic_cast was designed as the ideal mechanism for recovering enough type information to deal with objects that must be passed between subsystems without making misuses too easy and tempting. If you design your system so that major interfaces are abstract classes, dynamic_cast is the operation you need for intermodule communication where you need it to discover which interfaces (abstract classes) an object provides.

OMO: So this means that because specialized interfaces should't be used in intersubsystem communication/interfaces, objects passed as parameters must first be upcast to some common base class (to pass through the subsystem interface methods), and then downcast back to their more specific supported (inherited) interfaces once through the wall, so that their more specialized methods (not in the common base interface) may be accessed through this set of common (downcastable) interfaces (abstract classes). This seems to call for two sets of common interfaces, one used for intersubsystem communication and another for common objects which travel between them, if I read you correctly.

BS: Yes. Note that the upcast is implicit and automatic. Secondly, I imagine that the intermodule interface will often be the abstract classes that constitute the key interfaces within an application. Have a look at the Io_obj example from either D&E or my 3rd edition [of The C++ Programming Language]. That example shows how to "bury" the system interfaces and the RTTI deep in the implementation of an inter-process communication system. An application can be written almost exclusively in its own terms (interfaces) and keep all knowledge of the underlying system localized.

This actually has a rather strong relation to what I said about the factory pattern. The key is to keep interfaces to things that might vary at run time abstract.

OMO: Are you a big fan of Streams?

You mean the iostreams in the C++ standard library? I guess I am. I was the one who invented streams and I find the general concept most attractive. It is inherently type-safe, extensible, terse, and efficient. Over the years, the stream library has gathered quite a few barnacles, though, and it remains to be seen if implementations of the full-blown iostreams library can deliver the efficiency inherent in the basic concept. I consider it obvious that improvements to the current implementations are possible. For example, there is no reason a simple "Hello, World!" program should take up more than a couple of dozen kilobytes.

OMO: Thanks. I was referring to the general concept of streaming, which I find quite elegant and which also appears as a metaphor outside of I/O. Strings (string streams) would provide the simplist example. Do you prefer the C++ Standard Library's generic function approach to the old inheritance approach? I heard you talk once about the efficiency gain by using this form of parametric polymorphism instead of inclusion, but it does lead to an awful lot of common functions. Do you have any other feelings on the subject?

BS: I was one of the main proponents of including the STL into the standard library. I consider the generic-container-plus-iterators approach an elegant resolution of the problems with older approaches. Chapter 16 of my 3rd edition (the first of the standard library chapters) explains this in some detail. Basically, the STL approach allows us to use simple, optimal, type-safe containers while still being able to write code that can be used for a wide variety of containers. For example, the same traversal algorithm can be applied to both a vector and a list without imposing virtual function overheads on the access to elements.

By "an awful lot of common functions" do you mean code-replication overhead or the need to provide a large set of functions for every container? Code replication can be designed away and I don't think that writing a standards-conforming container is more work that writing any other "industrial strength" container. The key savings comes when we don't have to replicate algorithms for each container. Also, where close-to-optimal efficiency isn't required, we can simply build a "traditional" container class that meet the standard's container requirements and then use inheritance based on that one.

OMO: I was thinking of the difference between using base class methods for commonality of algorithm and general methods verses generic functions, where the primary difference seems to be whether the algorithm is in a common base class or in a function. I think the idea is the same but the structuring is different. The approaches seem equivalent. I believe the inheritance approach could be categorized as the Template Pattern, which is perhaps my favorite, typically for frameworks.

Do you think tasking (or threads) belong in a programming language? Can I presume they were left out of C++ to provide users with a choice on the model to employ?

BS: You are exactly right. I knew too many reasonable models for concurrrency to feel comfortable with building a single one into C++. Some people want non-preemptive threads for the most efficient and more basic concurrency, others want pre-emptable threads, others still want full-blown processes, and yet others want a concurrency mechanism that guarantees the integrity of transactions across a distributed system. I would have liked to serve them all by including a set of fundamental concurrency mechanisms that could serve as a basis for several forms of concurrency in C++. However, I never found a set that I felt could serve most of the C++ community well.

The result has been that there is a number of competing concurrency models for C++. See for example Parallel Programming Using C++,3 Gregory V. Wilson and Paul Lu (editors).

It describes a variety of approaches to concurrency in C++.

OMO: Thanks for the reference. Again its technological distinctiveness will be added to the Object FAQ. Java has single inheritance and multiple interface inheritance, while C++ has multiple inheritance (and abstract classes) which is a combination of typing and representation. I've even heard, much to my dismay, that multiple inheritance is being taught as a bad idea in school today and I've talked to architects who believe multiple inheritance causes maintenance problems as parent classes evolve apart over time. What do you think about all of this?

BS: Every useful/powerful feature can be misused, and every feature not present in a language tends to be deemed "dangerous" by proponents of that language. You can write lousy programs using multiple inheritance, just as you can write lousy programs with single inheritance and without inheritance. However, when your problem naturally maps to multiple inheritance, you get the maintenance problems by using only single inheritance or no inheritance. Basically, when you need multiple inheritance, you use it or you write a mess of forwarding functions. The exact same statement applies to single inheritance.

I use multiple inheritance in about a dozen places in my 3rd edition. I don't make a big deal out of it, because it's really quite simple.

The Java designers decided to provide only a crippled form of multiple inheritance. That's their choice and it may make sense in their world, but there are places where I prefer multiple inheritance to all alternatives I know of in the context of C++ and the kinds of problems I think most about -- and those problems tend to require a combination of long-term maintainability and high efficiency.

OMO: I agree completely. Java has pointer semantics and C++ has objects and pointers. While the Java model is simpler, it expands on the error of not allocating an object to a reference. Personally, I've advocated recursive types as a better theoretical approach, although it makes pointers implicit. What do you think?

BS: I think pointers have had a bad press lately. In theory, we might be able to do without pointers, but in real-world software we don't seem to be able to. Using a different name for "pointer" doesn't help much.

When you want to point to an element, a pointer is a perfectly good construct. I think a lot of the problems come from messing around with pointers at a very low level -- such as a C-style string or a linked list where the programmer has to manipulate the links directly. The string and the containers and algorithms in the C++ standard library ought to help here. Low-level pointer manipulation can be eliminated from most code written by novices and casual programmers. Personally, I am suspicious of any piece of code that uses a pointer to pointer directly.

OMO: I agree. I believe high-level structures, especially with the help of generic collection classes, should almost always replace pointers in code. Java has a small reflection package in 1.1: Have you ever considered adding reflection to C++?

BS: Often. However, I have not seen an approach to full reflection directly supported by a language that didn't cause serious overheads. Also, reflection seems to encourage styles of programming that make it hard to determine what's going on from the source text and discourage static checking. I see that as a problem. Consequently, the C++ RTTI provides only the minimal information to determine the types of objects at run time. Where necessary, this can be used as a handle for more information about types (classes), but any such information is beyond what the standard guarantees.

OMO: I agree completely that strong static typing handles many, if not most, cases. Like other advanced techniques, I see dynamic typing/dynamic reflection as rather advanced in principle and when called for provides a simpler solution than using idioms when dynamic facilities aren't present (it must be done regardless or a less than optimal model employed). But like anything else, dynamics can be over, or inappropriately, used.

Last I heard, about 30-40% of all first semester CS courses had adopted C++ for a programming language. Do you have any new statistics? And do you know what percentage of the professional software development community is using C++? I'd guess it's not too far from the dominant position of Microsoft operating systems or Intel CPUs.

BS: I don't know the number of C++ programmers and I don't know the number of programmers, but yes, C++ seems to be in a very prominent position among builders of significant systems -- as opposed [to its position] among builders of small applications. With the prominence comes an opportunity and an obligation to teach C++ and the techniques it supports well. C++ often is used in ways that are severely sub-optimal. Writing C or Smalltalk using C++ syntax is rarely a great improvement over alternatives.

Thus, teaching C++ well is very important. Different categories of programmers need different approaches. For example, someone who has never programmed before needs a different approach from a C programmer trying to add techniques to his repertoire, and the C programmer again needs a different approach from someone approaching C++ from a Pascal/Ada background.

In all cases, though, I encourage an approach based on an emphasis on strong static typing and abstraction techniques. I consider a heavy early emphasis on C or on class hierarchies problematic. There is a lot of mileage to be had out of strong static type checking and out of concrete and abstract classes before heading into the trickier parts of the common subset of C and C++ or the trickier parts of object-oriented programming.

OMO: Mike Spertus wrote an article appearing in this issue about coding Java in C++ by only using a simple subset of C++ that can be easily translated to Java. This code would then be portable and would also satisfy the boss who wants code written in C++. Further, the idea (one that Mike wrote about in a previous Object Currents column) is that applications should only use simple language constructs anyway and leave the more complex ones, such as operator overloading, to utilities and libraries to keep applications from becoming obscure. What do you think? Mike also believes garbage collection is better in C++ because of greater development maturity and flexibility in choosing packages. Do you agree with him?

BS: Hmmm. It seems to me that C++ is a perfectly good garbage-collected language, but I haven't gathered enough personal experience with garbage-collected C++ to give detailed recommendations. If you want a garbage collector for C++, there are good ones available -- both free and commercially supported.

Garbage collection for idiomatic C++ is efficient because there is less garbage to collect than there would be in traditional garbage-collected languages that allocate everything in a heap (e.g., Lisp, Smalltalk, Java). C++ garbage collectors also have the advatage of handling garbage created by the C parts of a program.

It should also be remembered that the standard library containers manage memory for their elements. This means that you can reduce the amount of explicit memory management radically even without a garbage collector.

I consider it obvious that relatively inexperienced C++ programmers should try to avoid trickier parts of the language. However, I see no point in scaring the majority of programmers away from large parts of the language. For example, when used with caution, operator overloading is quite simple and very useful. That doesn't mean that writing a matrix algebra library is a good choice as a first C++ project. That's an area where getting one of the available matrix libraries and concentrating on learning it well is a good idea.

However, restricting oneself to the C subset of C++ or the Java-like subset of C++ is a bad idea for most programmers. For starters, unless you use templates, you'll have to write code that's far less type safe. The presence of casts (explicit type conversion) in a program -- outside small well-delimited areas -- is a sign of poor design. Most application code should need only a few casts, and libraries that force their user to use casts are not taking advantage of modern C++. Where a language mechanism fits a problem, avoiding that language feature simply forces the complexity it would have helped manage into the user code.

OMO: Good points: I've made the same argument about using sophisticated features where appropriate to simplify programming and to avoid the Turing Tarpit. This seems to be the same as the multiple inheritance issue (and also my reflection issue, too).

BS: C++ is a language you can grow with. I don't think that the fact that you can't master it and its key techniques in a week or a month is a reason for complaints. Most of the complexity is there to make life simpler for you when you need them. Importantly, C++ can be learned in stages and at least most of what you don't know won't hurt you.

D&E is my explanation of what C++ is and why. My 3rd is my current best attempt to show how C++ can be learned and used; it is foreward-looking in that it depends on and explains features of Standard C++ that are only just becoming available. I think the best has yet to come.


1. Stroustrup, Bjarne, The C++ Programming Language, Third Edition, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1997.

2. Stroustrup, Bjarne, The Design and Evolution of C++, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1994.

3. Parallel Programming Using C++, Gregory V. Wilson and Paul Lu (editors), The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996.

Last Modified: Sunday, 01-Feb-1998 07:18:58 EST