10 Differences Between structure and class in c++

Structure vs Class in C++: Understanding the Differences

Introduction: In C++, both structures and classes play crucial roles in organizing data and behavior. While they share similarities, they differ in their default access levels and member initializations. In this article, we will explore the concepts of structures and classes, examine real-world examples, highlight their uses, and dive into a comprehensive table comparing their key differences.

What is a Structure?

A structure in C++ is a user-defined data type that groups related data elements together. It allows you to store diverse data types under a single unit, facilitating convenient data organization and manipulation.

Examples of Structures:

To better grasp the concept, consider a few examples:

struct Person {
   string name;
   int age;
   string address;

Here, we define a structure named “Person” which encapsulates attributes like name, age, and address.

struct Point2D {
   int x;
   int y;

The “Point2D” structure represents a two-dimensional point with coordinates (x, y).

Uses of Structures:

Structures are commonly used for various purposes:

  1. Representing complex data entities such as employees, customers, or students.
  2. Grouping related data members in a single object.
  3. Developing data structures like linked lists, queues, and trees.
  4. Creating database records.

What is a Class in C++?

In C++, a class is a blueprint for creating objects. It is an advanced version of a structure that not only encapsulates data but also includes member functions, allowing for data abstraction and encapsulation.

Examples of Classes in C++:

Let’s consider a couple of examples to understand classes better:

class Rectangle {
   int length;
   int width;

   int calculateArea() {
      return length * width;

The “Rectangle” class defines the attributes of a rectangle, length and width. Additionally, it provides a member function, “calculateArea,” which calculates and returns the area of the rectangle.

class Employee {
   string name;
   double salary;

   void displayInfo() {
      cout << "Name: " << name << endl;
      cout << "Salary: $" << salary << endl;

The "Employee" class represents an employee with attributes such as name and salary. It includes a member function, "displayInfo," which displays the employee's information on the console.

Uses of Classes in C++:

Classes are extensively used in C++ for various purposes:

  1. Implementing data abstraction and encapsulation.
  2. Modeling real-world entities.
  3. Building complex systems using object-oriented programming.
  4. Creating reusable components and libraries.

Differences between Structures and Classes in C++:

Let's compare structures and classes across various aspects using the table below:

Difference Area Structure Class in C++
Default Access Specifier Public Private
Member Initialization Supports only the default initializer Allows initialization using constructors
Member Function Cannot have member functions Can have member functions
Data Hiding Does not support data hiding Supports data hiding through access specifiers
Inheritance Does not support inheritance Supports single and multiple inheritance
Polymorphism Does not support polymorphism Supports polymorphism through virtual functions
Object Creation Does not require the "new" keyword for creating objects Requires the "new" keyword for dynamic memory allocation
Memory Allocation Size is the sum of the sizes of all members Size is larger due to additional overhead for function pointers and virtual tables
Typedef Usage Allows defining aliases using "typedef" Allows defining aliases using "typedef"
Use in Templates Cannot be used as a template argument Can be used as a template argument


In summary, structures provide a basic means of grouping data, while classes offer a more sophisticated approach with added functionalities. Structures are suitable for simpler scenarios, whereas classes excel in complex software design with features such as encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.

People Also Ask:

Here are five commonly asked questions regarding structures and classes in C++:

  1. Can structures have constructors and destructors?
    No, structures cannot have constructors or destructors like classes.
  2. What is the difference between public and private access specifiers in classes?
    Public members are accessible from anywhere, while private members are only accessible within the class itself.
  3. Which one should I choose: structure or class?
    If you only need to group data together, use a structure. However, if you require additional functionalities like member functions and data hiding, choose a class.
  4. Can structures and classes have static members?
    Yes, both structures and classes can have static members, allowing them to be shared among all objects.
  5. Why do classes have private access as the default specifier?
    The default private access specifier encourages encapsulation and data hiding, promoting better design practices.

By understanding the differences between structures and classes, you can make informed decisions when designing your C++ programs and leverage the appropriate features of each.

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