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Runtime and Compile-time constants in C++

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  • Last Updated : 19 Oct, 2020

Run-time Constant:

These are the constants whose respective values can only be known or computed at the time of running of source code. Run time Constants are a bit slower than compile-time constants but are more flexible than compile-time constants. However, once it is initialized, the value of these constants can’t be changed.

Below is the program for illustration of Runtime constants:

C++




// C++ program to illustrate
// Run-time Constants
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
  
// Driver Code
int main()
{
    // Input a variable
    double electonmass;
    cin >> electonmass;
  
    // Define a constant
    // and initialize it at
    // run-time
    const double electon_mass{ electonmass };
  
    // Known to the compiler
    // at the run-time
    cout << electon_mass << endl;
  
    return 0;
}


Output:

2.07335e-317

Compile-time Constant:

These are the constants whose respective value is known or computed at the time of compilation of source code. Compile-time constants are faster than run-time constants but are less flexible than run-time constants.

Below is the program for illustration of Compile-time Constant:

C++




// C++ program to illustrate
// compile-time constants
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
  
// Driver Code
int main()
{
    // Declare and initialize
    // compile time constant
    const double electron_q{ 1.6e-19 };
  
    // Value known to compiler
    // at compile-time
    cout << electron_q << endl;
  
    return 0;
}


Output:

1.6e-19

Difference between Run-time and Compile-time constants

                            Compile-time constants                                      Run-time constants                  
1. A compile-time constant is a value that is computed at the compilation-time.  Whereas, A runtime constant is a value that is computed only at the time when the program is running.
2. A compile-time constant will have the same value each time when the source code is run.

A runtime constant can have a different value each time the source code is run.

3

It is generally used while declaring an array size.

It is not preferred for declaring an array size.

4 If you use const int size = 5 for defining a case expression it would run smoothly and won’t produce any compile-time error. Here, if you use run-time constant in your source code for defining case expression then it will yield a compile-time error.
5 It does not produces any compile time error when used for initializing an enumerator.

Same compilation error, if runtime constant is used for initializing an enumerator.


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