Function declaration: K&R vs ANSI

c kr-c

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What are the differences between a K&R function declaration and an ANSI function declaration?

Автор: ashna Источник Размещён: 22.06.2010 09:54

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K&R syntax is obsolete, you can skip it unless you have to maintain very old code.

// K&R syntax
int foo(a, p) 
    int a; 
    char *p; 
{ 
    return 0; 
}

// ANSI syntax
int foo(int a, char *p) 
{ 
    return 0; 
}
Автор: Wizard Размещён: 22.06.2010 10:04

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Legacy K&R-Style Declarations/Definitions

When Kernighan and Ritchie first published "The C Programming Language", C didn't yet offer full function prototypes. Forward declarations of functions existed, but with the sole purpose of indicating a return type. For functions that returned int, they weren't required until C99.

By C89, the notion of a function prototype, which also specifies the types of the parameters (and, implicitly, their number) had been added. Since a prototype is also a type of function declaration, the unofficial term "K&R function declaration" is sometimes used for a function declaration that is not also a prototype.

// K&R declarations, we don't know whether these functions have parameters.
int foo(); // this declaration not strictly necessary until C99, because it returns int
float bar();

// Full prototypes, specifying the number and types of parameters
int foo(int);
float bar(int, float);

// K&R definition of a function
int foo(a)
    int a; // parameter types were declared separately
{
    // ...
    return 0;
}

// Modern definition of a function
float bar(int a, float b) 
{
    // ...
    return 0.0;
}

The Accidental K&R Declaration

It's worth noting that newcomers to C may accidentally use K&R declarations when they intend to use a full prototype, because they may not realize that an empty parameter list must be specified as void.

If you declare and define a function as

// Accidental K&R declaration
int baz(); // May be called with any possible set of parameters

// Definition
int baz() // No actual parameters means undefined behavior if called with parameters.
          // Missing "void" in the parameter list of a definition is undesirable but not
          // strictly an error, no parameters in a definition does mean no parameters;
          // still, it's better to be in the habit of consistently using "void" for empty
          // parameter lists in C, so we don't forget when writing prototypes.
{
    // ...
    return 0;
}

...then you have not actually given a prototype for a function that takes no parameters, but a declaration in K&R-style for a function that accepts an unknown number of parameters of unknown type.

AnT notes in this answer to a similar question that this syntax is deprecated but still legal as of C99 (and that function pointers to functions with unknown number and type of parameters still have potential applications, though at high risk of undefined behavior); as such, compliant compilers will, at best, produce a warning if a function is declared or called without a proper prototype.

Calling functions without prototypes is less safe, because the compiler cannot verify that you have passed the correct number and types of parameters in the correct order; undefined behavior results if the call is not actually correct.

The correct way to declare and define a parameterless function is, of course:

// Modern declaration of a parameterless function.
int qux(void);  // "void" as a parameter type means there are no parameters.
                // Without using "void", this would be a K&R declaration.

// Modern definition of a parameterless function
int qux(void)
{
    // ...
    return 0;
}
Автор: Theodore Murdock Размещён: 27.05.2015 01:14

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I just want to add that in the traditional K & R style type modifiers for functions that return an int value aren't even necessary.

Consider the modern C11 notation of a simple HelloWorld program:

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
    printf("hello world\n");
    return 0;
}

This is equivalent to the K & R notation style:

main(argc, argv)
int argc;
char **argv;
{
 printf("hello world\n");
 return 0;
}

Note that the int before main() is ignored, but the code still compiles. That's a part of the K & R definition.

Quote Wikipedia:

In early versions of C, only functions that returned a non-int value needed to be declared if used before the function definition; a function used without any previous declaration was assumed to return type int, if its value was used.

--source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_(programming_language)#K.26R_C

This is arguably a legacy coding-style and should be avoided due to clarity issues, but quite often old algorithm textbooks favour this sort of K & R style.

Автор: BearAqua Размещён: 17.07.2016 02:58
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