The creation of dynamically allocated objects in C++ happens in two stages. The first stage is responsible for allocating sufficient memory to store the object, and the second stage is responsible for initializing the newly allocated chunk of memory, depending on the type of the object being created.
Similarly, the destruction of dynamically allocated objects in C++ happens in two stages. The first stage is responsible for finalizing the object, depending on the type, and the second stage is responsible for deallocating the memory used by the object. The C++ Standard, [basic.life], paragraph 1 [ISO/IEC 14882-2014], states the following:
The lifetime of an object is a runtime property of the object. An object is said to have non-trivial initialization if it is of a class or aggregate type and it or one of its members is initialized by a constructor other than a trivial default constructor. [Note: initialization by a trivial copy/move constructor is non-trivial initialization. — end note] The lifetime of an object of type
— storage with the proper alignment and size for type
Tis obtained, and
— if the object has non-trivial initialization, its initialization is complete.
The lifetime of an object of type
Tis a class type with a non-trivial destructor, the destructor call starts, or
— the storage which the object occupies is reused or released.
For a dynamically allocated object, these two stages are typically handled automatically by using the
delete operators. The expression
new T for a type
T results in a call to
operator new() to allocate sufficient memory for
T. If memory is successfully allocated, the default constructor for
T is called. The result of the expression is a pointer
P to the object of type
T. When that pointer is passed in the expression
delete P, it results in a call to the destructor for
T. After the destructor completes, a call is made to
operator delete() to deallocate the memory.
When a program creates a dynamically allocated object by means other than the
new operator, it is said to be manually managing the lifetime of that object. This situation arises when using other allocation schemes to obtain storage for the dynamically allocated object, such as using an allocator object or
malloc(). For example, a custom container class may allocate a slab of memory in a
reserve() function in which subsequent objects will be stored. See MEM51-CPP. Properly deallocate dynamically allocated resources for further information on dynamic memory management.
When manually managing the lifetime of an object, the constructor must be called to initiate the lifetime of the object. Similarly, the destructor must be called to terminate the lifetime of the object. Use of an object outside of its lifetime is undefined behavior. An object can be constructed either by calling the constructor explicitly using the placement
new operator or by calling the
construct() function of an allocator object. An object can be destroyed either by calling the destructor explicitly or by calling the
destroy() function of an allocator object.
Noncompliant Code Example
In this noncompliant code example, a class with nontrivial initialization (due to the presence of a user-provided constructor) is created with a call to
std::malloc(). However, the constructor for the object is never called, resulting in undefined behavior when the class is later accessed by calling
In this compliant solution, the constructor and destructor are both explicitly called. Further, to reduce the possibility of the object being used outside of its lifetime, the underlying storage is a separate variable from the live object.
Noncompliant Code Example
In this noncompliant code example, a custom container class uses an allocator object to obtain storage for arbitrary element types. While the
copy_elements() function is presumed to call copy constructors for elements being moved into the newly allocated storage, this example fails to explicitly call the default constructor for any additional elements being reserved. If such an element is accessed through the
operator() function, it results in undefined behavior, depending on the type
In this compliant solution, all elements are properly initialized by explicitly calling copy or default constructors for
MEM53-CPP-EX1: If the object is trivially constructable, it need not have its constructor explicitly called to initiate the object's lifetime. If the object is trivially destructible, it need not have its destructor explicitly called to terminate the object's lifetime. These properties can be tested by calling
<type_traits>. For instance, integral types such as
long long do not require an explicit constructor or destructor call.
Failing to properly construct or destroy an object leaves its internal state inconsistent, which can result in undefined behavior and accidental information exposure.
|Do not invoke malloc/realloc for objects having constructors|
|[ISO/IEC 14882-2014]||Subclause 3.8, "Object Lifetime"|
Clause 9, "Classes"