What is the purpose of a static member variable in C++?

Static member variables in C++ belong to the class as a whole, rather than to specific objects of the class. They have only one copy, shared among all objects of the class. Static member variables are commonly used to represent attributes or states that belong to the entire class, allowing access and modification without the need to create an instance of the class. They can be initialized outside the class definition and accessed using the class name and scope resolution operator. The roles of static member variables include but are not limited to:

  1. Shared data: static member variables can be used to store data that is shared among all objects, instead of each object having its own copy. This can save memory space and ensure data consistency.
  2. Counter: Static member variables can be used to track the number of instances of a class or other statistical information.
  3. Configuration parameters: static member variables can be used to store class configuration parameters or global settings.
  4. Constant: Static member variables can be used to define constants or default values for a class.
  5. Global variables: static member variables can be shared by all objects, similar to the role of global variables, but protected by the encapsulation of the class.

In conclusion, the role of static member variables in C++ is to provide shared data or state that belongs to the entire class, making it easily accessible and shareable between all instances of the class.

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