12.4. The equals function

In order for two cards to be equal, they have to have the same rank and the same suit. Unfortunately, the == operator does not work for user-defined types like Card, so we have to write a function that compares two cards. We’ll call it equals. It is also possible to write a new definition for the == operator, but we will not cover that in this book.

It is clear that the return value from equals should be a boolean that indicates whether the cards are the same. It is also clear that there have to be two Cards as parameters. But we have one more choice: should equals be a member function or a free-standing function?

As a member function, it looks like this:

bool Card::equals (const Card& c2) const {
  return (rank == c2.rank && suit == c2.suit);

To use this function, we have to invoke it on one of the cards and pass the other as an argument:

Card card1 (1, 11);
Card card2 (1, 11);

if (card1.equals(card2)) {
  cout << "Yup, that's the same card." << endl;

This method of invocation always seems strange to me when the function is something like equals, in which the two arguments are symmetric. What I mean by symmetric is that it does not matter whether I ask “Is A equal to B?” or “Is B equal to A?” In this case, I think it looks better to rewrite equals as a nonmember function:

bool equals (const Card& c1, const Card& c2) {
  return (c1.rank == c2.rank && c1.suit == c2.suit);

When we call this version of the function, the arguments appear side-by-side in a way that makes more logical sense, to me at least.

if (equals (card1, card2)) {
  cout << "Yup, that's the same card." << endl;

Of course, this is a matter of taste. My point here is that you should be comfortable writing both member and nonmember functions, so that you can choose the interface that works best depending on the circumstance.

Run the active code below to see how the equals() function works.

In a card game called Euchre, the highest ranked suit is called the trump suit. The trump suit contains all of the cards of that suit, and the Jack of the other suit of the same color. For example, if Hearts was trump, the trump suit would contain all Hearts, and the Jack of Diamonds. Implement the is_trump() function that returns true of a Card is part of the trump suit. Assume we have a helper function same_color() that returns the other suit of the same color.

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