The C++Course provides a general introduction to programming in C++. It is based on A.B. Downey's book, How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. Click here for details.

Glossary A...C

abstract classA set of classes. The abstract class specification lists the requirements a class must satisfy to be included in the set.
abstract data typeA data type (usually a collection of objects) that is defined by a set of operations, but that can be implemented in a variety of ways.
abstract parameterA set of parameters that act together as a single parameter.
abstractionThe process of interpreting a program (or anything else) at a higher level than what is literally represented by the code.
accessor functionA function that provides access (read or write) to a private instance variable.
accumulatorA variable used inside a loop to accumulate a result, often by getting something added or concatenated during each iteration.
"address of" operatoran operator that returns the address in memory of a variable.
ADTabstract data type (see there)
algorithmA set of instructions for solving a class of problems by a mechanical, unintelligent process.
aliasingThe condition when two or more variables refer to the same object.
argumentA value that you provide when you call a function. This value must have the same type as the corresponding parameter.
arrayA named collection of values, where all the values have the same type, and each value is identified by an index.
assignmentA statement that assigns a value to a variable.
associative arrayAnother name for a dictionary.
AWTThe Abstract Window Toolkit, one of the biggest and most commonly-used Java packages.
binary operatorAn operator that takes two operands.
binary treeA tree in which each node refers to 0, 1, or 2 dependent nodes.
bodyThe statements inside the loop.
booleanA value or variable that can take on one of two states, often called true and false. In C++, boolean values can be stored in a variable type called bool.
bottom-up designA method of program development that starts by writing small, useful functions and then assembling them into larger solutions.
bounding boxA common way to specify the coordinates of a rectangular area.
bugAn error in a program.
byte codeA special kind of object code used for Java programs. Byte code is similar to a low-level language, but it is portable, like a high-level language.
callCause a function to be executed.
cargoAn item of data contained in a node.
chainingA way of joining several conditional statements in sequence.
childOne of the nodes referred to by a node.
circular bufferAn implementation of a queue using an array and indices of the first element and the next available space.
class methodA method with the keyword static. Class methods are not invoked on objects and they do not have a current object.
class variableA static variable declared outside of any method. It is accessible from any method.
classIn general use, a class is a user-defined type with member functions. In C++, a class is a structure with private instance variables. A class definition is also a template for a new type of object.
clientA program that uses an ADT (or the person who wrote the program).
collectionAny data structure that contains a set of items or elements.
comparison operatorAn operator that compares two values and produces a boolean that indicates the relationship between the operands.
compileTo translate a program in a high-level language into a low-level language, all at once, in preparation for later execution.
complexity classA set of algorithms whose performance (usually run time) has the same order of growth.
compositionThe ability to combine simple expressions and statements into compound statements and expressions in order to represent complex computations concisely.
concatenateTo join two operands end-to-end.
conditional operatorAn operator that compares two values and produces a boolean that indicates the relationship between the operands.
conditionalA block of statements that may or may not be executed depending on some condition.
constant reference parameterA parameter that is passed by reference but that cannot be modified.
constant timeAn operation whose run time does not depend on the size of the data structure.
constructorA special function that creates a new object and initializes its instance variables.
coordinateA variable or value that specifies a location in a two-dimensional graphical window.
counterA variable used to count something, usually initialized to zero and then incremented.
current objectThe object on which a member function is invoked. Inside the member function, we can refer to the current object implicitly, or by using the keyword this.
exceptionAn error in a program that makes it fail at run-time. Also called a run-time error.

Last Update: 2005-11-22