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Web Cartoon Maker: a Fun Way to Learn C++ Contents Previous Next

Leap of Faith

Following the flow of execution is one way to read programs, but as you saw in the previous section, it can quickly become labyrinthine. An alternative is what I call the “leap of faith.” When you come to a function call, instead of following the flow of execution, you assume that the function works correctly and returns the appropriate value.

In fact, you are already practicing this leap of faith when you use built-in functions. When you call Cos or Exp, you don’t examine the implementations of those functions. You just assume that they work, because the people who wrote the built-in libraries were good programmers.

Well, the same is true when you call one of your own functions. For example, we wrote a function called IsSingleDigit that determines whether a number is between 0 and 9. Once we have convinced ourselves that this function is correct – by testing and examination of the code – we can use the function without ever looking at the code again.

One major risk is that the “trusted” function may become inadvertently corrupted by it’s interaction with other program elements. There is a concept called encapsulation, which addresses itself to minimizing this risk. It will be discussed briefly in later sections, but a full discussion is beyond the scope of this book. However, if you are planning on writing large general C++ programs, you should become very familiar with this concept.

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