C++ Operator Overloading

I recently came across a tricky situation in operator overloading. The idea is overload ++ operator for a class. Since ++ works as both prefix and postfix.

int x = 0;
 auto y = ++x; // This is prefix 
 std::cout << "x: "<< x++ << "\n"; // this is postfix and value of 
// x is changed after the execution of this statement x = 1
 std::cout << "y: " << y << "\n"; // y = 1

When it comes to overloading of ++ operator, things becomes little tricky. Following is the way to overload ++ operator for both prefix and postfix.

struct X{
  int i = 0;
  // The prefix is coded as ++x
  X & operator++(){
    return *this;
  // this is postfix as x++
  X operator ++(int){
    X y(*this); 
    return y;

the prefix solution is straight forward but the postfix returns a copy of instance of X and hence its first copied, prefix increment is done and return the instance.

When overloading another operator << following code can be used.

struct X{
  friend std::iostream& operator<<(std::iostream & os, const X & x){
    os << "x.i: "<< x.i << "\n";
    return os;




Author: Saurabh Purnaye

Sr. Developer @NYSE @ICE_Markets. Low Latency Trading, Linux, C++, Python, Ruby. pursuing certificate in #QuantFinance and Passed CFA L1

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