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noatom

What is so bad about self-assignment?

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I was reading Thinking in C++,and I got on overloading the = operator.At the end it warns the coder to always check the possibility of self assignment.But I can't figure out what could go wrong.

 

If I have an object,what could ever happen if I assigned that object to itself? Because I overloaded the = operator,it would probably just put the same values in the same variables.

 

Can someone explain this?

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Because the class you are assigning to (the class you are writing the = operator ) typically you first delete the memory used by your members (if you have members that store their memory on the heap ie use new) and then you allocate new memory for your member variables, and then you copy the rhs member variables' contents in to this...

if rhs is *this then you had previously just deleted all of its members

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Actually, "typicaly" one would use the copy-and-swap idiom, because it is both simpler and exception safe, and does not have any problem with self-assignment.

What is warning you about self-assignment probably only applies in the particular scenario you were reading about. In general there is no reason to. Any assignment operator that must check for self-assignment is not exception safe. See the GotW archives. Edited by iMalc
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