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Using the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC)

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5.6 Referring to a Type with typeof

Another way to refer to the type of an expression is with typeof. The syntax of using of this keyword looks like sizeof, but the construct acts semantically like a type name defined with typedef.

There are two ways of writing the argument to typeof: with an expression or with a type. Here is an example with an expression:

typeof (x[0](1))

This assumes that x is an array of pointers to functions; the type described is that of the values of the functions.

Here is an example with a typename as the argument:

typeof (int *)

Here the type described is that of pointers to int.

If you are writing a header file that must work when included in ISO C programs, write __typeof__ instead of typeof. See section 5.39 Alternate Keywords.

A typeof-construct can be used anywhere a typedef name could be used. For example, you can use it in a declaration, in a cast, or inside of sizeof or typeof.

typeof is often useful in conjunction with the statements-within-expressions feature. Here is how the two together can be used to define a safe "maximum" macro that operates on any arithmetic type and evaluates each of its arguments exactly once:

#define max(a,b) \
  ({ typeof (a) _a = (a); \
      typeof (b) _b = (b); \
    _a > _b ? _a : _b; })

Some more examples of the use of typeof:

Compatibility Note: In addition to typeof, GCC 2 supported a more limited extension which permitted one to write

typedef T = expr;

with the effect of declaring T to have the type of the expression expr. This extension does not work with GCC 3 (versions between 3.0 and 3.2 will crash; 3.2.1 and later give an error). Code which relies on it should be rewritten to use typeof:

typedef typeof(expr) T;

This will work with all versions of GCC.

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