Declaration of variables


In order to use a variable in C++, we must first declare it specifying which data type we want it to be. The syntax to declare a new variable is to write the specifier of the desired data type (like int, bool, float...) followed by a valid variable identifier. For example

int a;
float mynumber;

These are two valid declarations of variables. The first one declares a variable of type int with the identifier a. The second one declares a variable of type float with the identifier mynumber. Once declared, the variables a and mynumber can be used within the rest of their scope in the program. If you are going to declare more than one variable of the same type, you can declare all of them in a single statement by separating their identifiers with commas. For example:

int a, b, c;

This declares three variables (a, b and c), all of them of type int, and has exactly the same meaning as:

int a;
int b;
int c;

The integer data types char, short, long and int can be either signed or unsigned depending on the range of numbers needed to be represented. Signed types can represent both positive and negative values, whereas unsigned types can only represent positive values (and zero). This can be specified by using either the specifier signed or the specifier unsigned before the type name. For example:

unsigned short int NumberOfSisters;
signed int MyAccountBalance;

By default, if we do not specify either signed or unsigned most compiler settings will assume the type to be signed, therefore instead of the second declaration above we could have written:

int MyAccountBalance;

with exactly the same meaning (with or without the keyword signed) An exception to this general rule is the char type, which exists by itself and is considered a different fundamental data type from signed char and unsigned char, thought to store characters. You should use either signed or unsigned if you intend to store numerical values in a char-sized variable. short and long can be used alone as type specifiers. In this case, they refer to their respective integer fundamental types: short is equivalent to short int and long is equivalent to long int. The following two variable declarations are equivalent:

short Year;
short int Year;

Finally, signed and unsigned may also be used as standalone type specifiers, meaning the same as signed int and unsigned int respectively. The following two declarations are equivalent:

unsigned NextYear;
unsigned int NextYear;

To see what variable declarations look like in action within a program, we are going to see the C++ code of the example about your mental memory proposed at the beginning of this section:

// operating with variables
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
int main ()
// declaring variables:
int a, b;
int result;
// process:
a = 5;
b = 2;
a = a + 1;
result = a - b;
// print out the result:
cout << result;
// terminate the program:
return 0;

Initialization of variables

When declaring a regular local variable, its value is by default undetermined. But you may want a variable to store a concrete value at the same moment that it is declared. In order to do that, you can initialize the variable. There are two ways to do this in C++:

The first one, known as c-like, is done by appending an equal sign followed by the value to which the variable will be initialized:

type identifier = initial_value ;

For example, if we want to declare an int variable called a initialized with a value of 0 at the moment in which it is declared, we could write:

int a = 0;

The other way to initialize variables, known as constructor initialization, is done by enclosing the initial value between parentheses (()):

type identifier (initial_value) ;

For example:

int a (0);

Both ways of initializing variables are valid and equivalent in C++.

// initialization of variables
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
int main ()
int a=5; // initial value = 5
int b(2); // initial value = 2
int result; // initial value
a = a + 3;
result = a - b;
cout << result;
return 0;



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