[c++] Fixed deduced return type for normal functions

In modern C++, the return type of a function can be deduced using auto keyword, which is known as deduced return type. This feature was initially available only for lambda functions and C++14 onwards brought the ability to use it for normal functions as well.

However, with deduced return types for normal functions, there were scenarios where the return type was incorrectly deduced leading to potential issues. To address this, C++20 introduced the capability to explicitly specify the deduced return type for normal functions using a trailing return type syntax.

Problem with Deduced Return Type

Consider the following function:

auto add(int a, int b) {
    return a + b;

In this case, the return type for add function is deduced as int based on the return statement. However, if the logic inside the function changes, for example, to return a double instead, the return type will be incorrectly deduced, leading to unexpected behavior.

Trailing Return Type to the Rescue

To overcome the limitations of deduced return types, C++20 offers the ability to explicitly specify the return type using a trailing return type syntax. Here’s how the add function can be defined with an explicit return type:

auto add(int a, int b) -> int {
   return a + b;

By using the trailing return type syntax, the return type is explicitly set to int, ensuring that it remains consistent even if the implementation of the function changes.


With the introduction of explicit return type syntax for normal functions in C++20, developers have more control over the return type deduction process, resulting in more robust and maintainable code.

For detailed information, you can refer to the C++20 standard.