CppCon 2019: There Are No Zero-cost Abstractions--Chandler Carruth

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This year, CppCon 2020 is going virtual. The dates are still the same – September 14-18 – and we are aiming for the CppCon live event to have pretty much everything you’re familiar with at CppCon except moved online: multiple tracks including “back to basics” and a new “embedded” track; live speaker Q&A; live talk time zones friendly to Americas and EMEA (and we’re going to try to arrange around-the-clock recorded repeats in all time zones, where speakers who are available can be available for live Q&A in their repeated talks too, and we’ll do that if it’s possible – but we’re still working on it!); virtual tables where you can interact face-to-face online with other attendees just like at the physical event; virtual exhibitor spaces where you can meet the folks on your favorite product’s teams to ask them question face-to-face; pre- and post-conference classes; and even the CppCon house band playing live before every plenary session. All talk recordings will be freely available as usual on YouTube a month or two after the event, but everything else above will be available only live during CppCon week.

To whet your appetite for this year’s conference, here’s another of the top-rated talks from last year. Enjoy – and register today for CppCon 2020 – all the spirit and flavor of CppCon, this year all virtual and online!

There Are No Zero-cost Abstractions

by Chandler Carruth

Summary of the talk:

C++ is often described as providing zero-cost abstractions. Libraries offer up facilities documented as such. And of course, users read all of these advertisements and believe that the abstractions they are using are truly zero-cost.

Sadly, there is no truth in advertising here, and there are no zero-cost abstractions.

This talk will dive into what we mean by "zero-cost abstractions", and explain why it is at best misleading and at worst completely wrong to describe libraries this way. It will show case studies of where this has led to significant problems in practice as libraries are designed or used in unscalable and unsustainable ways. Finally, it will suggest a different framing and approach for discussing abstraction costs in modern C++ software.

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