Is there Data Abstraction in C Language?

This is a discussion on Is there Data Abstraction in C Language? within the C Programming forums, part of the General Programming Boards category; This was the question I was asked during my project review but still I am clueless about the answer. The ...

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    Is there Data Abstraction in C Language?

    This was the question I was asked during my project review but still I am clueless about the answer.

    The question was, Is there Data Abstraction in C Language? I answered them No. Then, they asked me What is Structure and Union?. I told them, A structure is a collection of variables under a single name. These variables can be of different types, and each has a name which is used to select it from the structure. A structure is a convenient way of grouping several pieces of related information together. Now they asked me, If that is the case then how can we say that there is no Data abstraction in C? I was totally speechless at this. Still now, I don't have the answer for it.

    If you guys can help me explain me this, it would be of great help to me. Thank you very much!

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Your project reviewers are correct: a struct brings different pieces of data under a single name. This is certainly a form of data abstraction since one can then think about the struct instead of each of its components (except where necessary).

    To phrase the question in a more open ended way: what is data abstraction? Provide an example.
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    So, are you saying that C also supports Data Abstraction?

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    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    > So, are you saying that C also supports Data Abstraction?
    Example, the FILE struct, which you only ever see in your own code as FILE*, and which in your own code there is never any attempt to dereference a FILE* pointer.
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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    So, are you saying that C also supports Data Abstraction?
    To some extent it does. You should answer my question since that is the heart of the issue.
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    The reply to your question

    Quote Originally Posted by laserlight View Post
    To phrase the question in a more open ended way: what is data abstraction? Provide an example.
    Data Abstraction is organizing access to a program's data (eg.) arranging variable declarations and methods for accessing data.

    So, what do you say now?

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Data Abstraction is organizing access to a program's data (eg.) arranging variable declarations and methods for accessing data.

    So, what do you say now?
    C does indeed support your notion of data abstraction. As you pointed out, structs organise access to data by grouping them. By providing an appropriate set of functions, one can then organise the access and manipulation of the grouped data.
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserlight View Post
    C does indeed support your notion of data abstraction. As you pointed out, structs organise access to data by grouping them. By providing an appropriate set of functions, one can then organise the access and manipulation of the grouped data.
    So, then why is C not told as a Object Oriented Language? Data abstraction is a property of object oriented language.

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    So, then why is C not told as a Object Oriented Language? Data abstraction is a property of object oriented language.
    Object oriented programming involves data abstraction, but data abstraction does not necessarily require object oriented programming. C does not have the kind of native support for some object oriented features such as inheritance and polymorphism that OOP languages have.
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    okay.... thank you very much for your help! this is a great forum!

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    C can mimic OOP style by usage of function pointers. In fact, I believe this is the simple mechanism that C++ uses under the hood (more detailed and sophisticated, but at the end of the day.... function pointers are used in some manner) to support virtual functions.

    C is more meant naturally as a procedural language and is more in line directly with how the computer handles and manipulates data. C++ allows new features, but uses the same old type of stuff to build said features.

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    & the hat of GPL slaying Thantos's Avatar
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    You can also do data abstraction as a matter of discipline
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstract_data_type

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    data abstarction is there in C and highly used.

    So finally, the answer to the question "Can we have data abstraction in C?" is YES.

    The data type like Stack, Queue...etc are perfect examples of data abstraction and those all are well implemented in C.

    In C++, we achieve data abstraction through "Class".

    This link might help you:
    http://www.itmweb.com/essay550.htm
    Last edited by Alexpo; 12-16-2009 at 06:31 AM. Reason: adding extra info

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    C can mimic OOP style by usage of function pointers.
    Yes, but that just seems silly. I think it makes more sense to regard "method calls" in C as external to the object. Which probably allows for greater flexability but a bit more astuteness from the programmer. Affects like "inheritance" can be accomplished the same way -- by conceptualizing differently.

    "Proceduralism" and "Object Orientation" are not so mutually exclusive or anything.
    Last edited by MK27; 12-16-2009 at 08:03 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
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    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    I think you haven't noticed but this thread is around 2yrs old.
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