The const_cast operator (C++ only)

A const_cast operator is used to add or remove a const or volatile modifier to or from a type.

Read syntax diagramSkip visual syntax diagramconst_cast operator syntax
 
>>-const_cast--<--Type-->--(--expression--)--------------------><
 

Type and the type of expression may only differ with respect to their const and volatile qualifiers. Their cast is resolved at compile time. A single const_cast expression may add or remove any number of const or volatile modifiers.

The result of a const_cast expression is an rvalue unless Type is a reference type. In this case, the result is an lvalue.

Types can not be defined within const_cast.

The following demonstrates the use of the const_cast operator:

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

void f(int* p) {
  cout << *p << endl;
}

int main(void) {
  const int a = 10;
  const int* b = &a;

  // Function f() expects int*, not const int*
  //   f(b);
  int* c = const_cast<int*>(b);
  f(c);

  // Lvalue is const
  //  *b = 20;

  // Undefined behavior
  //  *c = 30;

  int a1 = 40;
  const int* b1 = &a1;
  int* c1 = const_cast<int*>(b1);

  // Integer a1, the object referred to by c1, has
  // not been declared const
  *c1 = 50;

  return 0;
}

The compiler will not allow the function call f(b). Function f() expects a pointer to an int, not a const int. The statement int* c = const_cast<int>(b) returns a pointer c that refers to a without the const qualification of a. This process of using const_cast to remove the const qualification of an object is called casting away constness. Consequently the compiler will allow the function call f(c).

The compiler would not allow the assignment *b = 20 because b points to an object of type const int. The compiler will allow the *c = 30, but the behavior of this statement is undefined. If you cast away the constness of an object that has been explicitly declared as const, and attempt to modify it, the results are undefined.

However, if you cast away the constness of an object that has not been explicitly declared as const, you can modify it safely. In the above example, the object referred to by b1 has not been declared const, but you cannot modify this object through b1. You may cast away the constness of b1 and modify the value to which it refers.

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