Function Templates

When to Use Function Templates

Why do we need function templates? When are they useful?

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Function templates are useful in situations where you have a generic algorithm or operation that can be applied to different types. Here are some scenarios where function templates are beneficial:

  1. Type-independent operations: If you have a function that performs an operation that is independent of the specific types involved, you can use a function template to create a generic version of the function. Examples include mathematical operations, comparisons, or utility functions.
  2. Reusable code: Function templates allow you to write code once and reuse it for different types, reducing code duplication and increasing maintainability.
  3. Generic algorithms: When implementing algorithms that can work with various data types, function templates provide a way to write the algorithm once and instantiate it for specific types as needed.
  4. Containers and iterators: Function templates are extensively used in the C++ Standard Library, particularly with containers and iterators. They allow you to write generic code that can work with different container types and iterate over them using a common interface.


// Function template for finding the maximum of two values
template <typename T>
T max(T a, T b) {
  return (a > b) ? a : b;

int main() {
  // Instantiates max<int>(int, int)
  int intMax = max(5, 10);
  // Instantiates max<double>(double, double)
  double doubleMax = max(3.14, 2.71);
  // Instantiates max<std::string>(std::string, std::string)
  std::string strMax = max("hello", "world");

In this example, the max function template can be used to find the maximum of two values of any comparable type, demonstrating its versatility and reusability.

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