Benefits of inline functions in C++?

C++ inline function is a powerful concept that is commonly used with classes. If a function is inline, the compiler places a copy of the code of that function at each point where the function is called at compile time.

Any change to an inline function could require all clients of the function to be recompiled because compiler would need to replace all the code once again otherwise it will continue with old functionality.

To inline a function, place the keyword inline before the function name and define the function before any calls are made to the function. The compiler can ignore the inline qualifier in case defined function is more than a line.

A function definition in a class definition is an inline function definition, even without the use of the inline specifier.

Following is an example, which makes use of inline function to return max of two numbers −


#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
inline int Max(int x, int y) {
   return (x > y)? x : y;
// Main function for the program
int main() {
   cout << "Max (20,10): " << Max(20,10) << endl;
   cout << "Max (0,200): " << Max(0,200) << endl;
   cout << "Max (100,1010): " << Max(100,1010) << endl;
   return 0;


Max (20,10): 20
Max (0,200): 200
Max (100,1010): 1010

Now let us see, what are the benefits of using the inline functions in our code −

  • Here the function call overhead does not occur.

  • It saves the overhead of the push and pop variables on the stack, when the function is called.

  • It saves the overhead of return call from a function.

  • When one inline function is created, the compiler may perform context specific optimization on the body of the function. This kind of optimizations are not performed for normal functions.

  • Using of small inline functions may be useful for embedded systems, because inline can yield less code than the function call preamble and return.

Updated on: 30-Jul-2019


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started