What's the purpose of layout-compatible types?

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The standard defines when two types are layout-compatible. But, I don't see anywhere in the standard what the consequences are when two types are layout-compatible. It seems that layout-compatible is a definition which is not used anywhere.

What is the purpose of layout-compatible?

Note: Supposedly, it could mean that the types have the same layout (offsetof is the same for each corresponding member), so for example, for trivially copyable types, underlying bytes can be copied between them. But I don't see something like this in the standard.

 


The standard does define one specific case where layout compatibility matters: in unions. If two members are layout-compatible, and one of them is the active union member, then you may access that object through pointers/references to any layout-compatible member of that union. This is a consequence of the "common initial sequence" rule.

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