Why isn't argument deduction allowed in function return type?

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Category:Languages

The most obvious answer could be - because the standard says so.
That's fine, but I'm wrapping my head around it to understand the reasons behind this choice.

Consider the following example:

template<typename T> struct S { S(T) {} };  S f() { return 0; }  int main() {     auto s = f();     (void)s; } 

It fails to compile with errors like:

error: use of class template 'S' requires template arguments; argument deduction not allowed in function return type

Quite easy to fix, it isn't a problem, something like this works just fine:

auto f() { return S{0}; } 

However, I'd like to understand what were the drawbacks of allowing class template arguments deduction also in function return types.
At a first glance, it looks just like a silly limitation, but I'm pretty sure I'm missing something important here.

 


There's nothing language-lawery here: If you specify a return type (and not auto or T where T is a template type), that return type has to be valid. let me give you even a simpler, better example:

std::vector function() {     return std::vector<int>(); } 

Obviously it fails to compile, even without fancy templates, auto and type deductions, because std::vector isn't a type, std::vector<int> is.

When you specify S as a return type you basically

  • Prevent the compiler from deducing the type itself
  • Specify an invalid return type, as S isn't a type, S<int> is.

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