# Template Metaprogramming – Hybrid Programming

First of all, hybrid programming is not an official term. I created it to emphasize an exciting aspect of templates. The difference between function arguments and template arguments.

I ended my last post, “Template Metaprogramming – How it Works” with a riddle. Here is the context for the riddle.

## The Riddle

The function `power` and `Power` calculate the pow(2, 10). `power` is executed at run time and `Power` at compile time.

```// power.cpp

#include <iostream>

int power(int m, int n) {
int r = 1;
for(int k = 1; k <= n; ++k) r *= m;
return r;
}

template<int m, int n>
struct Power {
static int const value = m * Power<m, n-1>::value;
};

template<int m>
struct Power<m, 0> {
static int const value = 1;
};

int main() {

std::cout << '\n';

std::cout << "power(2, 10)= " << power(2, 10) << '\n';
std::cout << "Power<2,10>::value= " << Power<2, 10>::value << '\n';

std::cout << '\n';
}
```

If you want more details about both functions, read my previous post, “Template Metaprogramming – How it Works“.

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So far, so good, but what is happening in the following example?

```// powerHybrid.cpp

#include <iostream>

template<int n>
int Power(int m){
return m * Power<n-1>(m);
}

template<>
int Power<0>(int m){
return 1;
}

int main() {

std::cout << '\n';

std::cout << "Power<0>(10): " << Power<0>(20) << '\n';
std::cout << "Power<1>(10): " << Power<1>(10) << '\n';
std::cout << "Power<2>(10): " << Power<2>(10) << '\n';

std::cout << '\n';

}```

As expected, `Power` does its job.

Here is the riddle in short one more: Is `Power` a function or a metafunction?

## Hybrid Programming

To make it short.

The calls` Power<0>(10)`,` Power<1>(10)`, and `Power<2>(10)` use sharp and round brackets and calculate 10 to the power of 0, 1, and 2. This means 0, 1, and 2 are compile-time arguments, and 10 is a run-time argument. To say it differently: Power is, at the same time, a function and a metafunction. Let me elaborate more on this point.

### Power at Run Time

First, I can instantiate `Power` for 2, give it the name` Power2` and use it in a for-loop.

```// powerHybridRuntime.cpp

#include <iostream>

template<int n>
int Power(int m){
return m * Power<n-1>(m);
}

template<>
int Power<0>(int m){
return 1;
}

int main() {

std::cout << '\n';

auto Power2of = Power<2>;

for (int i = 0; i <= 20; ++i) {
std::cout << "Power2of(" << i << ")= "
<< Power2of(i)  << '\n';
}

std::cout << '\n';

}```

`Power2o`f enables it to calculate the squares of 0 … 20 at run time.

You cannot invoke `Power` with different template arguments in the for-loop. Template instantiation requires a constant expression. To make it short: The following use of Power fails with a compile-time error that “`the value of 'i' is not usable in a constant expression`“.

for (int i = 0; i <= 20; ++i) {

std::cout << “Power<“ << i << “>(2)= “ << Power<i>(2) << ‘\n’;

}

Honestly, there is a more interesting difference between a function and a metafunction.

### Power at Compile Time

When you study the previous program `powerHybrid.cpp` in C++ Insights, you see that each usage of Power with a different template argument creates a new type.

This means that the invocation ` Power<2>(10)` causes the recursive template instantiation for `Power<1>(10)`, and `Power<0>(10)`. Here is the output of C++ Insights.

To sum up my observation. Each template instantiation creates a new type.

### Creating New Types

When you use a template such as `Power`, `std::vector`, or `std::array`, you can invoke it with two kinds of arguments: function arguments and template arguments. The function arguments go into the round brackets (`( ... )`) and the template arguments go into the sharp brackets (`<...>`). The template arguments create new types. Or, to put it the other way around. You can parameterize templates in two ways: at compile time with sharp brackets (`<...>`). and at run time with round brackets (`( ... )`.

```auto res1 = Power<2>(10);                       // (1)
auto res2 = Power<2>(11);                       // (2)
auto rest3 = Power<3>(10);                      // (3)

std::vector<int> myVec1(10);                    // (1)
std::vector<int> myVec2(10, 5);                 // (2)
std::vector<double> myDouble(5);                // (3)

std::array<int, 3> myArray1{ 1, 2, 3};          // (1)
std::array<int, 3> myArray2{ 1, 2, 3};          // (2)
std::array<double, 3> myArray3{ 1.1, 2.2, 3.3}; // (3)
```

• (1) creates a new `Power` instance,` std::vector` of length 10, or a `std::array` with three elements
• (2) reuses the already created types in the previous lines (1)
• (3) creates a new type

A few of my German readers already pointed it out. My metafunction Power has a significant flaw.

### The Big Flaw

When I instantiate `Power` with a negative or too-big number, I get undefined behavior.

1. `Power<-1>(10)` causes an infinite template instantiation because the boundary condition Power<0>(10) does not apply.
2. `Power<200>(10)` causes an `int` overflow.

The first issues can be fixed by using a` static_assert` inside the `Power` template:` static_assert(n >= 0, "exponent must be >= 0");. `There is no simple solution for the second issue.

```// powerHybridRuntimeOverflow.cpp

#include <iostream>

template<int n>
int Power(int m){
return m * Power<n-1>(m);
}

template<>
int Power<0>(int m){
return 1;
}

int main() {

std::cout << '\n';

auto Power10of = Power<10>;

for (int i = 0; i <= 20; ++i) {
std::cout << "Power10of(" << i << ")= "
<< Power10of(i)  << '\n';
}

std::cout << '\n';

}
```

The overflow starts with` Power10of(9). pow(9, 10) is `3,486,784,40

` `

## My Disclaimer

At the end of these three posts, “Template Metaprogramming – How it All Started“, “Template Metaprogramming – How it Works” about template metaprogramming, I have to make a disclaimer. I don’t want that you use templates to program at compile time. Most of the time, `constexpr` (C++11) or `consteval` (C++20 is the better choice.

I explained template metaprogramming for two reasons.

1. Template metaprogramming helps you better understand templates and the process of template instantiation.
2. The type-traits library applies the idea and uses the conventions of template metaprogramming.

## What’s next?

In my next post, I will write about the type-traits library.  The type-traits library (C++11) is template metaprogramming in a beautiful guise.

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