Tutorial :What is the difference between an abstract function and a virtual function?



Question:

What is the difference between an abstract function and a virtual function? In which cases is it recommended to use virtual or abstract? Which is the more correct approach?


Solution:1

An abstract function cannot have functionality. You're basically saying, any child class MUST give their own version of this method, however it's too general to even try to implement in the parent class.

A virtual function, is basically saying look, here's the functionality that may or may not be good enough for the child class. So if it is good enough, use this method, if not, then override me, and provide your own functionality.


Solution:2

An abstract function has no implemention and it can only be declared on an abstract class. This forces the derived class to provide an implementation. A virtual function provides a default implementation and it can exist on either an abstract class or a non-abstract class. So for example:

public abstract class myBase  {      //If you derive from this class you must implement this method. notice we have no method body here either      public abstract void YouMustImplement();        //If you derive from this class you can change the behavior but are not required to      public virtual void YouCanOverride()      {       }  }    public class MyBase  {     //This will not compile because you cannot have an abstract method in a non-abstract class      public abstract void YouMustImplement();  }  


Solution:3

  1. Only abstract classes can have abstract members.
  2. A non-abstract class that inherits from an abstract class must override its abstract members.
  3. An abstract member is implicitly virtual.
  4. An abstract member cannot provide any implementation (abstract is called pure virtual in some languages).


Solution:4

You must always override an abstract function.

Thus:

  • Abstract functions - when the inheritor must provide its own implementation
  • Virtual - when it is up to the inheritor to decide


Solution:5

Abstract Function:

  1. It can be declared only inside abstract class.
  2. It contains only method declaration not the implementation in abstract class.
  3. It must be overridden in derived class.

Virtual Function:

  1. It can be declared inside abstract as well as non abstract class.
  2. It contains method implementation.
  3. It may be overridden.


Solution:6

Abstract method: When a class contains an abstract method, that class must be declared as abstract. The abstract method has no implementation and thus, classes that derive from that abstract class, must provide an implementation for this abstract method.

Virtual method: A class can have a virtual method. The virtual method has an implementation. When you inherit from a class that has a virtual method, you can override the virtual method and provide additional logic, or replace the logic with your own implementation.

When to use what: In some cases, you know that certain types should have a specific method, but, you don't know what implementation this method should have.
In such cases, you can create an interface which contains a method with this signature. However, if you have such a case, but you know that implementors of that interface will also have another common method (for which you can already provide the implementation), you can create an abstract class. This abstract class then contains the abstract method (which must be overriden), and another method which contains the 'common' logic.

A virtual method should be used if you have a class which can be used directly, but for which you want inheritors to be able to change certain behaviour, although it is not mandatory.


Solution:7

explanation: with analogies. hopefully it will help you.

Context

I work on the 21 st floor of a building. And I'm paranoid about fire. Every now and again, somewhere in the world, a fire is burning down a sky scraper. But luckily we have an instruction manual somewhere here on what to do in case of fire:

FireEscape()

  1. Don't collect belongings
  2. Walk to fire escape
  3. Walk out of building

This is basically a virtual method called FireEscape()

Virtual Method

This plan is pretty good for 99% of the circumstances. It's a basic plan which works. But there is a 1% chance that the fire escape is blocked or damaged in which case you are completely screwed and you'll become toast unless you take some drastic action. With virtual methods you can do just that: you can override the basic FireEscape() plan with your own version of the plan:

  1. Run to window
  2. Jump out the window
  3. Parachute safely to the bottom

In other words virtual methods provide a basic plan, which can be overriden if you need to. Subclasses can override the parent class' virtual method if the programmer deems it appropriate.

Abstract methods

Not all organisations are well drilled. Some organisations don't do fire drills. They don't have an overall escape policy. Every man is for himself. Management are only interested in such a policy existing.

In other words, each person is forced to develop his own FireEscape() method. One guy will walk out the fire escape. Another guy will parachute. Another guy will use rocket propulsion technology to fly away from the building. Another guy will abseil out. Management don't care how you escape, so long as you have a basic FireEscape() plan - if they don't you can be guaranteed OHS will come down on the organisation like a tonne of bricks. This is what is meant by an abstract method.

What's the difference between the two again?

Abstract method: sub classes are forced to implement their own FireEscape method. With a virtual method, you have a basic plan waiting for you, but can choose to implement your own if it's not good enough.

Now that wasn't so hard was it?


Solution:8

An abstract method is a method that must be implemented to make a concrete class. The declaration is in the abstract class (and any class with an abstract method must be an abstract class) and it must be implemented in a concrete class.

A virtual method is a method that can be overridden in a derived class using the override, replacing the behavior in the superclass. If you don't override, you get the original behavior. If you do, you always get the new behavior. This opposed to not virtual methods, that can not be overridden but can hide the original method. This is done using the new modifier.

See the following example:

public class BaseClass  {      public void SayHello()      {          Console.WriteLine("Hello");      }          public virtual void SayGoodbye()      {          Console.WriteLine("Goodbye");      }        public void HelloGoodbye()      {          this.SayHello();          this.SayGoodbye();      }  }      public class DerivedClass : BaseClass  {      public new void SayHello()      {          Console.WriteLine("Hi There");      }          public override void SayGoodbye()      {          Console.WriteLine("See you later");      }  }  

When I instantiate DerivedClass and call SayHello, or SayGoodbye, I get "Hi There" and "See you later". If I call HelloGoodbye, I get "Hello" and "See you later". This is because SayGoodbye is virtual, and can be replaced by derived classes. SayHello is only hidden, so when I call that from my base class I get my original method.

Abstract methods are implicitly virtual. They define behavior that must be present, more like an interface does.


Solution:9

Abstract methods are always virtual. They cannot have an implementation.

That's the main difference.

Basically, you would use a virtual method if you have the 'default' implementation of it and want to allow descendants to change its behaviour.

With an abstract method, you force descendants to provide an implementation.


Solution:10

I made this simpler by making some improvements on the following classes (from other answers):

using System;  using System.Collections.Generic;  using System.Linq;  using System.Text;    namespace TestOO  {      class Program      {          static void Main(string[] args)          {              BaseClass _base = new BaseClass();              Console.WriteLine("Calling virtual method directly");              _base.SayHello();              Console.WriteLine("Calling single method directly");              _base.SayGoodbye();                DerivedClass _derived = new DerivedClass();              Console.WriteLine("Calling new method from derived class");              _derived.SayHello();              Console.WriteLine("Calling overrided method from derived class");              _derived.SayGoodbye();                DerivedClass2 _derived2 = new DerivedClass2();              Console.WriteLine("Calling new method from derived2 class");              _derived2.SayHello();              Console.WriteLine("Calling overrided method from derived2 class");              _derived2.SayGoodbye();              Console.ReadLine();          }      }          public class BaseClass      {          public void SayHello()          {              Console.WriteLine("Hello\n");          }          public virtual void SayGoodbye()          {              Console.WriteLine("Goodbye\n");          }            public void HelloGoodbye()          {              this.SayHello();              this.SayGoodbye();          }      }          public abstract class AbstractClass      {          public void SayHello()          {              Console.WriteLine("Hello\n");          }              //public virtual void SayGoodbye()          //{          //    Console.WriteLine("Goodbye\n");          //}          public abstract void SayGoodbye();      }          public class DerivedClass : BaseClass      {          public new void SayHello()          {              Console.WriteLine("Hi There");          }            public override void SayGoodbye()          {              Console.WriteLine("See you later");          }      }        public class DerivedClass2 : AbstractClass      {          public new void SayHello()          {              Console.WriteLine("Hi There");          }          // We should use the override keyword with abstract types          //public new void SayGoodbye()          //{          //    Console.WriteLine("See you later2");          //}          public override void SayGoodbye()          {              Console.WriteLine("See you later");          }      }  }  


Solution:11

Binding is the process of mapping a name to a unit of code.

Late binding means that we use the name, but defer the mapping. In other words, we create/mention the name first, and let some subsequent process handle the mapping of code to that name.

Now consider:

  • Compared to humans, machines are really good at searching and sorting
  • Compared to machines, humans are really good at invention and innovation

So, the short answer is: virtual is a late binding instruction for the machine (runtime) whereas abstract is the late binding instruction for the human (programmer)

In other words, virtual means:

“Dear runtime, bind the appropriate code to this name by doing what you do best: searching”

Whereas abstract means:

“Dear programmer, please bind the appropriate code to this name by doing what you do best: inventing”

For the sake of completeness, overloading means:

“Dear compiler, bind the appropriate code to this name by doing what you do best: sorting”.


Solution:12

You basically use a virtual method when you want the inheritors to extend the functionality IF they want to.

You use abstract methods when you want the inheritors to implement the functionality (and in this case they have no choice)


Solution:13

I have seen in some places the abstract method is defined as below. **

"An Abstract Method must have to implement in the child class"

** I felt it is like .

It is not necessary that an abstract method has to be implemented in a child class, if the child class is also abstract ..

1)An abstract method cant be a private method. 2)An Abstract method cant be implemented in the same abstract class.

I would say ..if we are implementing an abstract class, you must have to override the abstract methods from the base abstract class. Because.. Implementing the abstract method is with override key word .Similar to Virtual method.

It is not necessary for a virtual method to be implemented in an inherited class.

                                 ----------CODE--------------    public abstract class BaseClass  {      public int MyProperty { get; set; }      protected abstract void MyAbstractMethod();        public virtual void MyVirtualMethod()      {          var x = 3 + 4;      }    }  public abstract class myClassA : BaseClass  {      public int MyProperty { get; set; }      //not necessary to implement an abstract method if the child class is also abstract.        protected override void MyAbstractMethod()      {          throw new NotImplementedException();      }  }  public class myClassB : BaseClass  {      public int MyProperty { get; set; }      //You must have to implement the abstract method since this class is not an abstract class.        protected override void MyAbstractMethod()      {          throw new NotImplementedException();      }  }  


Solution:14

Virtual Method:

  • Virtual means we CAN override it.

  • Virtual Function has an implementation. When we inherit the class we can override the virtual function and provide our own logic.

  • We can change the return type of Virtual function while implementing the
    function in the child class(which can be said as a concept of
    Shadowing).

Abstract Method

  • Abstract means we MUST override it.

  • An abstract function has no implementation and must be in an abstract class.

  • It can only be declared. This forces the derived class to provide the implementation of it.

  • An abstract member is implicitly virtual. The abstract can be called as pure virtual in some of the languages.

    public abstract class BaseClass  {       protected abstract void xAbstractMethod();        public virtual void xVirtualMethod()      {          var x = 3 + 4;      }  }   


Solution:15

Abstract function cannot have a body and MUST be overridden by child classes

Virtual Function will have a body and may or may not be overridden by child classes


Solution:16

Most of the above examples use code - and they are very very good. I need not add to what they say, but the following is a simple explanation that makes use of analogies rather than code/technical terms.

Simple Explanation - Explanation using analogies

Abstract Method

Think George W Bush. He says to his soldiers: "Go fight in Iraq". And that's it. All he has specified is that fighting must be done. He does not specify how exactly that will happen. But I mean, you can't just go out and "fight": what does that mean exactly? do I fight with a B-52 or my derringer? Those specific details are left to someone else. This is an abstract method.

Virtual Method

David Petraeus is high up in the army. He has defined what fight means:

  1. Find the enemy
  2. Neutralise him.
  3. Have a beer afterwards

The problem is that it is a very general method. It's a good method that works, but sometimes is not specific enough. Good thing for Petraeus is that his orders have leeway and scope - he has allowed others to change his definition of "fight", according to their particular requirements.

Private Job Bloggs reads Petraeus' order and is given permission to implement his own version of fight, according to his particular requirements:

  1. Find enemy.
  2. Shoot him in the head.
  3. Go Home
  4. Have beer.

Nouri al Maliki also receives the same orders from Petraeus. He is to fight also. But he is a politician, not an infantry man. Obviously he cannot go around shooting his politican enemies in the head. Because Petraeus has given him a virtual method, then Maliki can implement his own version of the fight method, according to his particular circumstances:

  1. Find enemy.
  2. Have him arrested with some BS trumped up charges.
  3. Go Home
  4. Have beer.

IN other words, a virtual method provides boilerplate instructions - but these are general instructions, which can be made more specific by people down the army heirarchy, according to their particular circumstances.

The difference between the two

  • George Bush does not prove any implementation details. This must be provided by someone else. This is an abstract method.

  • Petraeus on the other hand does provide implementation details but he has given permission for his subordinates to override his orders with their own version, if they can come up with something better.

hope that helps.


Solution:17

Abstract function(method) :

● An abstract method is a method which is declared with the keyword abstract.

● It does not have body.

● It should be implemented by the derived class.

● If a method is abstract then the class should abstract.

virtual function(method) :

● A virtual method is the method which is declared with the keyword virtual and it can be overridden by the derived class method by using override keyword.

● It's up to the derived class whether to override it or not.


Solution:18

The answer has been provided a number of times but the the question about when to use each is a design-time decision. I would see it as good practice to try to bundle common method definitions into distinct interfaces and pull them into classes at appropriate abstraction levels. Dumping a common set of abstract and virtual method definitions into a class renders the class unistantiable when it may be best to define a non-abstract class that implements a set of concise interfaces. As always, it depends on what best suits your applications specific needs.


Solution:19

From general object oriented view:

Regarding abstract method: When you put an abstract method in the parent class actually your are saying to the child classes: Hey note that you have a method signature like this. And if you wanna to use it you should implement your own!

Regarding virtual function: When you put a virtual method in the parent class you are saying to the derived classes : Hey there is a functionality here that do something for you. If this is useful for you just use it. If not, override this and implement your code, even you can use my implementation in your code !

this is some philosophy about different between this two concept in General OO


Solution:20

There are nothing call virtual class in C#.

For functions

  1. Abstract function only have signature only,the drive class should override with functionality.
  2. Virtual function will hold the part of functionality the drive class may or may not override it according to the requirement

You can decide with your requirement.


Solution:21

To my understanding:

Abstract Methods:

Only the abstract class can hold abstract methods. Also the derived class need to implement the method and no implementation is provided in the class.

Virtual Methods:

A class can declare these and also provide the implementation of the same. Also the derived class need to implement of the method to override it.


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