3.7. Programs with Multiple Functions

When you look at a class definition that contains several functions, it is tempting to read it from top to bottom, but that is likely to be confusing, because that is not the order of execution of the program.


The order of execution is not necessarily the order in which functions are defined! For example, the last function that you write might be the first one that you call in the main function.

Execution always begins at the first statement of main, regardless of where it is in the program** (often it is at the bottom). Statements are executed one at a time, in order, until you reach a function call. Function calls are like a detour in the flow of execution. Instead of going to the next statement, you go to the first line of the called function, execute all the statements there, and then come back and pick up again where you left off.

That sounds simple enough, except that you have to remember that one function can call another. Thus, while we are in the middle of main, we might have to go off and execute the statements in threeLine. But while we are executing threeLine, we get interrupted three times to go off and execute newLine.

Fortunately, C++ is adept at keeping track of where it is, so each time newLine completes, the program picks up where it left off in threeLine, and eventually gets back to main so the program can terminate.

This program calls the multiplyTwo and addTwo functions in the main. See if you can follow the order of execution.

What’s the moral of this sordid tale? When you read a program, don’t read from top to bottom. Instead, follow the flow of execution.

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