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Posted 30 Sep 2012

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One interesting bug with cast's.

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4.90/5 (19 votes)
7 Oct 2012CPOL2 min read
I have faced with one rather interesting bug which was related to a wrong usage of casts. It is a great pleasure for me to share the results of the research.


I have faced with one rather interesting bug which was related to a wrong usage of casts. It is a great pleasure for me to share the results of the research. So the details are below. (For more details please take a look at my other article

Bug description 

In one of the projects I was involved we had a class "C" derived from two classes "A" and "B".

class  A
    void funcA1();
    void funcA2();
    int field1; 

class  B 
    void funcB1();
    void funcB2();
    int field1;  

class  C : public A, public B 
    void funcC1();
    void funcC2();
    int field1;  

We had a vector of pointers on C class and a function to find the index of a given pointer.

B* ptr = reinterpret_cast<B*>(cPointer);
int index = FindIndex(vectorOfCPointers, ptr);  

Inside of  FindIndex function we had a following code: 

for (size_t i = 0; i < ptrVector.size(); ++i)
    if (ptr == static_cast<B*>(
        return i; 
return -1; 

The result of this function was always -1, so it was look like that there is no object even if it was there.


I think that it's easy to understand how to fix this bug. We should just change reinterpret_cast outside the function onto static_cast. We will get a different pointer values with a different casts. For example if  cPtr is equal to 0x11223344 as a result of casts we will get a following values:  

static_cast<B*>(cPtr)  will be  0x11223348

reinterpret_cast<B*>(cPtr) will be  0x11223344


Let's find out why did it happened. First of all we should know that object without virtual functions is represented in memory like a simple structure. It has all its fields placed in memory with the same order like they were declared in a class definition. For example if we have a class like this:

class SomeClass
    int a;
    int b;
    int c; 

And we have a pointer "ptr" on the object of that class. We can have a direct access to class fields like this.

int * aPtr = (int*)ptr; 
int* bPtr = ((int*)ptr ) + 1; 
int* cPtr = ((int*)bptr) + 1;    

So what will happened in a case of multiple inheritance? For example we have our classes A, B, and C. Class C in memory will look like a sequence of classes A, B and C. And the pointer to the C class will point the sequence of fields of A class, fields of B class and finally fields of C class.

 cPtr   ->Class A members 

Class B members 

Class C members

So what should happen if we want to cast cPtr to the bPtr? Right, we should add the size of A members to cPtr, so we will get bPtr points on the B class.

Class A members 
bPtr  -> Class B members 
Class C members 
 As we can see static_cast did that transformation but reinterpret_cast did not.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Sergey Vystoropskiy
Software Developer (Senior) Oracle
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 2 Pin
Wolfgang_Baron8-Oct-12 10:09
professionalWolfgang_Baron8-Oct-12 10:09 
Questionstatic_cast and reinterpret_cast Pin
ftai7-Oct-12 22:31
Memberftai7-Oct-12 22:31 
QuestionMaybe a good tip Pin
Paulo Zemek7-Oct-12 4:37
mvaPaulo Zemek7-Oct-12 4:37 
GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
Stefan_Lang2-Oct-12 6:52
mveStefan_Lang2-Oct-12 6:52 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
ykachanov3-Oct-12 17:24
Memberykachanov3-Oct-12 17:24 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
Stefan_Lang3-Oct-12 23:35
mveStefan_Lang3-Oct-12 23:35 
QuestionMy vote of 5 Pin
Guyverthree2-Oct-12 4:34
MemberGuyverthree2-Oct-12 4:34 
AnswerRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Sergey Vystoropskiy2-Oct-12 5:44
MemberSergey Vystoropskiy2-Oct-12 5:44 
GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
gwiazdorrr1-Oct-12 10:48
Membergwiazdorrr1-Oct-12 10:48 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
Sergey Vystoropskiy1-Oct-12 11:06
MemberSergey Vystoropskiy1-Oct-12 11:06 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
kanalbrummer1-Oct-12 5:17
Memberkanalbrummer1-Oct-12 5:17 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Sergey Vystoropskiy1-Oct-12 5:41
MemberSergey Vystoropskiy1-Oct-12 5:41 
SuggestionThis is by design Pin
Johann Anhofer1-Oct-12 0:45
MemberJohann Anhofer1-Oct-12 0:45 
GeneralRe: This is by design Pin
Sergey Vystoropskiy1-Oct-12 1:32
MemberSergey Vystoropskiy1-Oct-12 1:32 
GeneralRe: This is by design Pin
Dmitriy Iassenev3-Oct-12 8:03
MemberDmitriy Iassenev3-Oct-12 8:03 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
StNickolay30-Sep-12 9:06
MemberStNickolay30-Sep-12 9:06 

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