Quick Q: What is a non-trivial constructor in C++?

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Quick A: All constructors that you define are not trivial.

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What is a non-trivial constructor in C++?

In simple words a "trivial" special member function literally means a member function that does its job in a very straightforward manner. The "straightforward manner" means different thing for different kinds of special member functions.

For a default constructor and destructor being "trivial" means literally "do nothing at all". For copy-constructor and copy-assignment operator, being "trivial" means literally "be equivalent to simple raw memory copying" (like copy with memcpy).

If you define a constructor yourself, it is considered non-trivial, even if it doesn't do anything, so a trivial constructor must be implicitly defined by the compiler.

In order for a special member function to satisfy the above requirements, the class must have a very simplistic structure, it must not require any hidden initializations when an object is being created or destroyed, or any hidden additional internal manipulations when it is being copied.

For example, if class has virtual functions, it will require some extra hidden initializations when objects of this class are being created (initialize virtual method table and such), so the constructor for this class will not qualify as trivial.

For another example, if a class has virtual base classes, then each object of this class might contain hidden pointers that point to other parts of the very same object. Such a self-referential object cannot be copied by a simple raw memory copy routine (like memcpy). Extra manipulations will be necessary to properly re-initialize the hidden pointers in the copy. For this reason the copy constructor and copy-assignment operator for this class will not qualify as trivial.

For obvious reasons, this requirement is recursive: all subobjects of the class (bases and non-static members) must also have trivial constructors.

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