By L. F.

2019-04-15 10:20:12 8 Comments

Consider the following code:

#include <cctype>
#include <functional>
#include <iostream>

int main()
    std::invoke(std::boolalpha, std::cout);               // #1
    std::cout << std::invoke(std::tolower, 'A') << "\n";  // #2

Here, the two calls to std::invoke are labeled for future reference. The expected output is:


Is the expected output guaranteed?


@L. F. 2019-04-15 10:20:12

Short answer



[namespace.std] says:

Let F denote a standard library function ([global.functions]), a standard library static member function, or an instantiation of a standard library function template. Unless F is designated an addressable function, the behavior of a C++ program is unspecified (possibly ill-formed) if it explicitly or implicitly attempts to form a pointer to F. [Note: Possible means of forming such pointers include application of the unary & operator ([expr.unary.op]), addressof ([specialized.addressof]), or a function-to-pointer standard conversion ([conv.func]). —‚ÄČend note ] Moreover, the behavior of a C++ program is unspecified (possibly ill-formed) if it attempts to form a reference to F or if it attempts to form a pointer-to-member designating either a standard library non-static member function ([member.functions]) or an instantiation of a standard library member function template.

With this in mind, let's check the two calls to std::invoke.

The first call

std::invoke(std::boolalpha, std::cout);               // #1

Here, we are attempting to form a pointer to std::boolalpha. Fortunately, [fmtflags.manip] saves the day:

Each function specified in this subclause is a designated addressable function ([namespace.std]).

And boolalpha is a function specified in this subclause. Thus, this line is well-formed, and is equivalent to:


But why is that? Well, it is necessary for the following code:

std::cout << std::boolalpha;

The second call

std::cout << std::invoke(std::tolower, 'A') << "\n";  // #2

Unfortunately, [cctype.syn] says:

The contents and meaning of the header <cctype> are the same as the C standard library header <ctype.h>.

Nowhere is tolower explicitly designated an addressable function.

Therefore, the behavior of this C++ program is unspecified (possibly ill-formed), because it attempts to form a pointer to tolower, which is not designated an addressable function.


The expected output is not guaranteed. In fact, the code is not even guaranteed to compile.

@lubgr 2019-04-15 10:32:16

Related, interesting read (though this article doesn't touch on the concept of an addressable function).

@L. F. 2019-04-15 10:33:54

@lubgr Good point! It should suffice in general.

@zwol 2019-04-15 17:24:04

It is interesting to observe that the C standard takes exactly the opposite perspective: N1570 7.1.4 "...unless explicitly stated otherwise in the detailed is permitted to take the address of a library function." (setjmp is an example of a C library function whose address may not be taken, see 7.13p3.)

@L. F. 2019-04-16 09:37:45

Good to know! This shows that C++ is quite defensive in library usage ;-)

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