C++ – What exactly is nullptr


We now have C++11 with many new features. An interesting and confusing one (at least for me) is the new nullptr.

Well, no need anymore for the nasty macro NULL.

int* x = nullptr;
myclass* obj = nullptr;

Still, I am not getting how nullptr works. For example, Wikipedia article says:

C++11 corrects this by introducing a new keyword to serve as a distinguished null pointer constant: nullptr. It is of type nullptr_t, which is implicitly convertible and comparable to any pointer type or pointer-to-member type. It is not implicitly convertible or comparable to integral types, except for bool.

How is it a keyword and an instance of a type?

Also, do you have another example (beside the Wikipedia one) where nullptr is superior to good old 0?

Best Solution

How is it a keyword and an instance of a type?

This isn't surprising. Both true and false are keywords and as literals they have a type ( bool ). nullptr is a pointer literal of type std::nullptr_t, and it's a prvalue (you cannot take the address of it using &).

  • 4.10 about pointer conversion says that a prvalue of type std::nullptr_t is a null pointer constant, and that an integral null pointer constant can be converted to std::nullptr_t. The opposite direction is not allowed. This allows overloading a function for both pointers and integers, and passing nullptr to select the pointer version. Passing NULL or 0 would confusingly select the int version.

  • A cast of nullptr_t to an integral type needs a reinterpret_cast, and has the same semantics as a cast of (void*)0 to an integral type (mapping implementation defined). A reinterpret_cast cannot convert nullptr_t to any pointer type. Rely on the implicit conversion if possible or use static_cast.

  • The Standard requires that sizeof(nullptr_t) be sizeof(void*).