Object-Oriented Programming


Michael L. Collard, Ph.D.

Department of Computer Science, The University of Akron

Importance of Naming

  • Critical issue for software engineering
  • Software Engineers name things constantly
  • Naming impacts the readability and comprehension of software
  • Good names reduce the cost of development
  • Careful selection of names can convey the high-level meaning of a task to the developer


If you have a good name for a method, you do not need to look at the body - Fowler et al.


If you have a good name for a method, you do not need to look at the body - Fowler et al.

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things - Phil Karlton


If you have a good name for a method, you do not need to look at the body - Fowler et al.

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things - Phil Karlton

There are 2 hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-1 errors Leon Bambrick

What is a name?

  • Technical term: identifier
  • Lowercase letters: 'a'..'z'
  • Uppercase letters: 'A'..'Z'
  • Digits: '0'..'9'
  • Underscore: '_'
  • First character: letter or underscore




Non-ASCII Names

  • C++ standards only allow certain Unicode non-ASCII letters
  • Other languages allow Unicode characters, e.g., Swift, even allowing emojis
  • Some compilers support extensions of this, e.g., clang
  • As used in srcML TextLexer.g. Note: C++ strings can look like names at the start
  • Some parts of your toolchain may handle only ASCII, so stick to ASCII unless needed

Exceptions to the Rules

  • Reserved Words: C++ Reserved Words
  • contextual keywords - identifiers with special meaning in a specific context
  • Avoid starting with an underscore '_' as it is reserved for system use

Exception: C++ Keywords

alignas alignof and and_eq asm atomic_cancel
atomic_commit atomic_noexcept auto bitand bitor bool
break case catch char char8_t char16_t
char32_t class compl concept const consteval
constexpr constinit const_cast continue co_await co_return
co_yield decltype default delete do double
dynamic_cast else enum explicit export extern
false float for friend goto if
inline int long mutable namespace new
noexcept not not_eq nullptr operator or
or_eq private protected public reflexpr register
reinterpret_cast requires return short signed sizeof
static static_assert static_cast struct switch synchronized
template this thread_local throw true try
typedef typeid typename union unsigned using
virtual void volatile wchar_t while xor

Exception: Contextual Keywords

C++ final override transaction_safe transaction_safe_dynamic
C++ import module    
C# add and alias ascending
C# args async await by
C# descending dynamic equals file
C# from get global group
C# init into join let
C# managed nameof nint not
C# notnull nuint on or
C# orderby partial record remove
C# required scoped select set
C# unmanaged value var when
C# where with yield  

Exception: System Use

_Compare __enum_type_info __msg_ctime_high __lcomp
__nmemb __min_element_switch __copy_range1 _SC_ULONG_MAX
__nent __advances __pattern_includes __brick_min_element
__blkcnt64_t __outbuf __parallel_for_body __unused2
__align __sizep __s _SC_BC_BASE_MAX
_CS_LFS64_LIBS __attrp _IO_buf_base __replace_if_switch
_M_z_beg __combine _SC_FILE_ATTRIBUTES __ptr
__SYSMACROS_DEFINE_MINOR __target_bin __iov _M_first_insert
__gthread_key_create __ISwalpha __cmd __tgid
__logp __rseq_offset __cc_range _M_ik
_SC_FD_MGMT __collector_t _SC_2_C_DEV __h
__x __seqs_end _SC_PII_INTERNET_STREAM __m2
_M_ys __size_part __timebuf __argv

Lots to Name

  • variables
  • fields (data members)
  • parameters
  • types
  • functions
  • methods
  • classes

General Rules

  • Names should not include types or any symbol for the types. I.e., the Hungarian Notation is not a good style
  • Variables, parameters, types, classes, fields, classes, files, are entities, i.e., things and therefore use nouns
  • Functions and methods are actions and therefore use verbs
  • For most functions/methods, the action is in the imperative form, e.g., use parse() instead of parsing() or parsed()
  • Will focus on function/method names for now

Operator Overloading: Built-In Types

Function Overloading

  • C++, and most modern programming languages, allow function overloading, while C does not
  • Can use the same name for multiple functions as long as the parameter list is different (number, types)
  • Uniqueness is not influenced by the return type
  • Name is based on: function name, cv-qualifiers, parameter types

g++ -S struct.cpp

Executable Environment

  • C language has functions (with no overloading) and structs
  • CPU supports assembly labels that refer to a memory address
  • CPU supports instructions to call a function located at a memory location (callq, call, call1, bl) and return from a function (retq, ret, retl)



C++ Function Assembly Name
action() __Z6actionv
action(int) __Z6actioni
action(double) __Z6actiond
action(char) __Z6actionc
action(double&) __Z6actionRd
action(double const&) __Z6actionRKd
action(double*) __Z6actionPd
action(double const*) __Z6actionPKd
action(std::vector<int>&) __Z6actionRNSt3__16vectorIiNS_9allocatorIiEEEE
action(const std::vector<int>&) __Z6actionRKNSt3__16vectorIiNS_9allocatorIiEEEE

C++ Function Naming Tools

Description Command
Compile to Assembly g++ -S overloading.cpp
Compile to x86 Assembly on Apple Silicon Mac g++ -target x86_64 -S overloading.cpp
List symbols in object file nm overloading
Demangle a symbol c++filt __Z6actioni
Demangle all symbols in object file nm --demangle overloading