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Thinking in C++
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Return by value as const

Returning by value as a const can seem a bit subtle at first, so it deserves a bit more explanation. Consider the binary operator+. If you use it in an expression such as f(a+b), the result of a+b becomes a temporary object that is used in the call to f( ). Because it’s a temporary, it’s automatically const, so whether you explicitly make the return value const or not has no effect.

However, it’s also possible for you to send a message to the return value of a+b, rather than just passing it to a function. For example, you can say (a+b).g( ), in which g( ) is some member function of Integer, in this case. By making the return value const, you state that only a const member function can be called for that return value. This is const-correct, because it prevents you from storing potentially valuable information in an object that will most likely be lost.

Thinking in C++
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire