7 Expressions [expr]

7.7 Constant expressions [expr.const]

Certain contexts require expressions that satisfy additional requirements as detailed in this subclause; other contexts have different semantics depending on whether or not an expression satisfies these requirements.
Expressions that satisfy these requirements, assuming that copy elision ([class.copy.elision]) is not performed, are called constant expressions.
Note
:
Constant expressions can be evaluated during translation.
— end note
 ]
constant-expression:
	conditional-expression
A variable or temporary object o is constant-initialized if
  • either it has an initializer or its default-initialization results in some initialization being performed, and
  • its initialization full-expression is a constant expression when interpreted as a constant-expression, except that if o is an object, the initialization full-expression may also invoke constexpr constructors for o and its subobjects even if those objects are of non-literal class types.
    Note
    : Such a class may have a non-trivial destructor. Within this evaluation, std​::​is_­constant_­evaluated() ([meta.const.eval]) returns true. — end note
     ]
A variable is usable in constant expressions after its initializing declaration is encountered if it is a constexpr variable, or it is a constant-initialized variable of reference type or of const-qualified integral or enumeration type.
An object or reference is usable in constant expressions if it is
  • a variable that is usable in constant expressions, or
  • a template parameter object ([temp.param]), or
  • a string literal object ([lex.string]), or
  • a non-mutable subobject or reference member of any of the above, or
  • a complete temporary object of non-volatile const-qualified integral or enumeration type that is initialized with a constant expression.
An expression e is a core constant expression unless the evaluation of e, following the rules of the abstract machine, would evaluate one of the following:
  • this ([expr.prim.this]), except in a constexpr function ([dcl.constexpr]) that is being evaluated as part of e;
  • an invocation of a non-constexpr function
    Note
    : Overload resolution ([over.match]) is applied as usual. — end note
     ]
    ;
  • an invocation of an undefined constexpr function;
  • an invocation of an instantiated constexpr function that fails to satisfy the requirements for a constexpr function;
  • an invocation of a virtual function ([class.virtual]) for an object unless
    • the object is usable in constant expressions or
    • its lifetime began within the evaluation of e;
  • an expression that would exceed the implementation-defined limits (see [implimits]);
  • an operation that would have undefined behavior as specified in [intro] through [cpp] of this document
    Note
    : including, for example, signed integer overflow ([expr.prop]), certain pointer arithmetic ([expr.add]), division by zero, or certain shift operations — end note
     ]
    ;
  • an lvalue-to-rvalue conversion unless it is applied to
    • a non-volatile glvalue that refers to an object that is usable in constant expressions, or
    • a non-volatile glvalue of literal type that refers to a non-volatile object whose lifetime began within the evaluation of e;
  • an lvalue-to-rvalue conversion that is applied to a glvalue that refers to a non-active member of a union or a subobject thereof;
  • an lvalue-to-rvalue conversion that is applied to an object with an indeterminate value ([basic.indet]);
  • an invocation of an implicitly-defined copy/move constructor or copy/move assignment operator for a union whose active member (if any) is mutable, unless the lifetime of the union object began within the evaluation of e;
  • an id-expression that refers to a variable or data member of reference type unless the reference has a preceding initialization and either
    • it is usable in constant expressions or
    • its lifetime began within the evaluation of e;
  • in a lambda-expression, a reference to this or to a variable with automatic storage duration defined outside that lambda-expression, where the reference would be an odr-use;
    Example
    :
    void g() {
      const int n = 0;
      [=] {
        constexpr int i = n;        // OK, n is not odr-used here
        constexpr int j = *&n;      // ill-formed, &n would be an odr-use of n
      };
    }
    
    — end example
     ]
    Note
    : If the odr-use occurs in an invocation of a function call operator of a closure type, it no longer refers to this or to an enclosing automatic variable due to the transformation ([expr.prim.lambda.capture]) of the id-expression into an access of the corresponding data member.
    Example
    :
    auto monad = [](auto v) { return [=] { return v; }; };
    auto bind = [](auto m) {
      return [=](auto fvm) { return fvm(m()); };
    };
    
    // OK to have captures to automatic objects created during constant expression evaluation.
    static_assert(bind(monad(2))(monad)() == monad(2)());
    
    — end example
     ]
    — end note
     ]
  • a conversion from type cv void* to a pointer-to-object type;
  • a reinterpret_­cast ([expr.reinterpret.cast]);
  • modification of an object ([expr.ass], [expr.post.incr], [expr.pre.incr]) unless it is applied to a non-volatile lvalue of literal type that refers to a non-volatile object whose lifetime began within the evaluation of e;
  • a new-expression, unless the selected allocation function is a replaceable global allocation function ([new.delete.single], [new.delete.array]) and the allocated storage is deallocated within the evaluation of e;
  • a delete-expression, unless it deallocates a region of storage allocated within the evaluation of e;
  • a call to an instance of std​::​allocator<T>​::​allocate ([allocator.members]), unless the allocated storage is deallocated within the evaluation of e;
  • a call to an instance of std​::​allocator<T>​::​deallocate ([allocator.members]), unless it deallocates a region of storage allocated within the evaluation of e;
  • an await-expression;
  • a yield-expression;
  • a three-way comparison ([expr.spaceship]), relational ([expr.rel]), or equality ([expr.eq]) operator where the result is unspecified;
  • a throw-expression or a dynamic cast ([expr.dynamic.cast]) or typeid ([expr.typeid]) expression that would throw an exception;
  • an asm-declaration; or
  • an invocation of the va_­arg macro ([cstdarg.syn]).
If e satisfies the constraints of a core constant expression, but evaluation of e would evaluate an operation that has undefined behavior as specified in [library] through [thread] of this document, or an invocation of the va_­start macro ([cstdarg.syn]), it is unspecified whether e is a core constant expression.
Example
:
int x;                              // not constant
struct A {
  constexpr A(bool b) : m(b?42:x) { }
  int m;
};
constexpr int v = A(true).m;        // OK: constructor call initializes m with the value 42

constexpr int w = A(false).m;       // error: initializer for m is x, which is non-constant

constexpr int f1(int k) {
  constexpr int x = k;              // error: x is not initialized by a constant expression
                                    // because lifetime of k began outside the initializer of x
  return x;
}
constexpr int f2(int k) {
  int x = k;                        // OK: not required to be a constant expression
                                    // because x is not constexpr
  return x;
}

constexpr int incr(int &n) {
  return ++n;
}
constexpr int g(int k) {
  constexpr int x = incr(k);        // error: incr(k) is not a core constant expression
                                    // because lifetime of k began outside the expression incr(k)
  return x;
}
constexpr int h(int k) {
  int x = incr(k);                  // OK: incr(k) is not required to be a core constant expression
  return x;
}
constexpr int y = h(1);             // OK: initializes y with the value 2
                                    // h(1) is a core constant expression because
                                    // the lifetime of k begins inside h(1)
— end example
 ]
For the purposes of determining whether an expression is a core constant expression, the evaluation of a call to a member function of std​::​allocator<T> as defined in [allocator.members], where T is a literal type, does not disqualify the expression from being a core constant expression, even if the actual evaluation of such a call would otherwise fail the requirements for a core constant expression.
Similarly, the evaluation of a call to std​::​destroy_­at, std​::​ranges​::​destroy_­at, std​::​construct_­at, or std​::​ranges​::​construct_­at is a valid core constant expression unless:
  • for a call to std​::​construct_­at or std​::​ranges​::​construct_­at, the first argument, of type T*, does not point to storage allocated with std​::​allocator<T> or the evaluation of the underlying constructor call is not a core constant expression, or
  • for a call to std​::​destroy_­at or std​::​ranges​::​destroy_­at, the first argument, of type T*, does not point to storage allocated with std​::​allocator<T> or the evaluation of the underlying destructor call is not a core constant expression.
An object a is said to have constant destruction if:
  • it is not of class type nor (possibly multi-dimensional) array thereof, or
  • it is of class type or (possibly multi-dimensional) array thereof, that class type has a constexpr destructor, and for a hypothetical expression e whose only effect is to destroy a, e would be a core constant expression if the lifetime of a and its non-mutable subobjects (but not its mutable subobjects) were considered to start within e.
An integral constant expression is an expression of integral or unscoped enumeration type, implicitly converted to a prvalue, where the converted expression is a core constant expression.
Note
:
Such expressions may be used as bit-field lengths, as enumerator initializers if the underlying type is not fixed ([dcl.enum]), and as alignments.
— end note
 ]
If an expression of literal class type is used in a context where an integral constant expression is required, then that expression is contextually implicitly converted ([conv]) to an integral or unscoped enumeration type and the selected conversion function shall be constexpr.
Example
:
struct A {
  constexpr A(int i) : val(i) { }
  constexpr operator int() const { return val; }
  constexpr operator long() const { return 42; }
private:
  int val;
};
template<int> struct X { };
constexpr A a = alignof(int);
alignas(a) int n;               // error: ambiguous conversion
struct B { int n : a; };        // error: ambiguous conversion
— end example
 ]
A converted constant expression of type T is an expression, implicitly converted to type T, where the converted expression is a constant expression and the implicit conversion sequence contains only and where the reference binding (if any) binds directly.
Note
:
Such expressions may be used in new expressions, as case expressions, as enumerator initializers if the underlying type is fixed, as array bounds, and as non-type template arguments.
— end note
 ]
A contextually converted constant expression of type bool is an expression, contextually converted to bool, where the converted expression is a constant expression and the conversion sequence contains only the conversions above.
A constant expression is either a glvalue core constant expression that refers to an entity that is a permitted result of a constant expression (as defined below), or a prvalue core constant expression whose value satisfies the following constraints:
  • if the value is an object of class type, each non-static data member of reference type refers to an entity that is a permitted result of a constant expression,
  • if the value is of pointer type, it contains the address of an object with static storage duration, the address past the end of such an object ([expr.add]), the address of a non-immediate function, or a null pointer value,
  • if the value is of pointer-to-member-function type, it does not designate an immediate function, and
  • if the value is an object of class or array type, each subobject satisfies these constraints for the value.
An entity is a permitted result of a constant expression if it is an object with static storage duration that either is not a temporary object or is a temporary object whose value satisfies the above constraints, or if it is a non-immediate function.
Example
:
consteval int f() { return 42; }
consteval auto g() { return f; }
consteval int h(int (*p)() = g()) { return p(); }
constexpr int r = h();                          // OK
constexpr auto e = g();                         // ill-formed: a pointer to an immediate function is
                                                // not a permitted result of a constant expression
— end example
 ]
Note
:
Since this document imposes no restrictions on the accuracy of floating-point operations, it is unspecified whether the evaluation of a floating-point expression during translation yields the same result as the evaluation of the same expression (or the same operations on the same values) during program execution.80
Example
:
bool f() {
    char array[1 + int(1 + 0.2 - 0.1 - 0.1)];   // Must be evaluated during translation
    int size = 1 + int(1 + 0.2 - 0.1 - 0.1);    // May be evaluated at runtime
    return sizeof(array) == size;
}
It is unspecified whether the value of f() will be true or false.
— end example
 ]
— end note
 ]
An expression or conversion is in an immediate function context if it is potentially evaluated and its innermost non-block scope is a function parameter scope of an immediate function.
An expression or conversion is an immediate invocation if it is an explicit or implicit invocation of an immediate function and is not in an immediate function context.
An immediate invocation shall be a constant expression.
Note
:
An immediate invocation is evaluated even in an unevaluated operand.
— end note
 ]
An expression or conversion e is manifestly constant-evaluated if it is:
  • a constant-expression, or
  • the condition of a constexpr if statement ([stmt.if]), or
  • an immediate invocation, or
  • a constraint-expression including one formed from the constraint-logical-or-expression of a requires-clause, or
  • the initializer of a variable that is usable in constant expressions or has constant initialization.81
    Example
    :
    template<bool> struct X {};
    X<std::is_constant_evaluated()> x;                      // type X<true>
    int y;
    const int a = std::is_constant_evaluated() ? y : 1;     // dynamic initialization to 1
    double z[a];                                            // ill-formed: a is not usable
                                                            // in constant expressions
    const int b = std::is_constant_evaluated() ? 2 : y;     // static initialization to 2
    int c = y + (std::is_constant_evaluated() ? 2 : y);     // dynamic initialization to y+y
    
    constexpr int f() {
      const int n = std::is_constant_evaluated() ? 13 : 17; // n is 13
      int m = std::is_constant_evaluated() ? 13 : 17;       // m might be 13 or 17 (see below)
      char arr[n] = {}; // char[13]
      return m + sizeof(arr);
    }
    int p = f();                                            // m is 13; initialized to 26
    int q = p + f();                                        // m is 17 for this call; initialized to 56
    
    — end example
     ]
An expression or conversion is potentially constant evaluated if it is:
A function or variable is needed for constant evaluation if it is:
  • a constexpr function that is named by an expression ([basic.def.odr]) that is potentially constant evaluated, or
  • a variable whose name appears as a potentially constant evaluated expression that is either a constexpr variable or is of non-volatile const-qualified integral type or of reference type.
Example
:
struct N {
  constexpr N() {}
  N(N const&) = delete;
};
template<typename T> constexpr void bad_assert_copyable() { T t; T t2 = t; }
using ineffective = decltype(bad_assert_copyable<N>());
                        // bad_­assert_­copyable<N> is not needed for constant evaluation
                        // (and thus not instantiated)
template<typename T> consteval void assert_copyable() { T t; T t2 = t; }
using check = decltype(assert_copyable<N>());
                        // error: assert_­copyable<N> is instantiated (because it is needed for constant
                        // evaluation), but the attempt to copy t is ill-formed
— end example
 ]
Nonetheless, implementations should provide consistent results, irrespective of whether the evaluation was performed during translation and/or during program execution.
Testing this condition may involve a trial evaluation of its initializer as described above.
Constant evaluation may be necessary to determine whether a narrowing conversion is performed ([dcl.init.list]).
Constant evaluation may be necessary to determine whether such an expression is value-dependent ([temp.dep.constexpr]).