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Beginning Programming with C++ For Dummies® by Nat Coalson

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Chapter 5. Character Expressions

In This Chapter

  • Defining character variables and constants

  • Encoding characters

  • Declaring a string

  • Outputting characters to the console

Chapter 4 introduces the concept of the integer variable. This chapter introduces the integer's smaller sibling, the character or char (pronounced variously as care, chair, or as in the first syllable of charcoal) to us insiders. I have used characters in programs appearing in earlier chapters — now it's time to introduce them formally.

Defining Character Variables

Character variables are declared just like integers except with the keyword char in place of int:

char inputCharacter;

Character constants are defined as a single character enclosed in single quotes, as in the following:

char letterA = 'A';

This may seem like a silly question, but what exactly is "A"? To answer that, I need to explain what it means to encode characters.

Encoding characters

As I mentioned in Chapter 1, everything in the computer is represented by a pattern of ones and zeros that can be interpreted as numbers. Thus, the bit pattern 0000 0001 is the number 1 when interpreted as an integer. However, this same bit pattern means something completely different when interpreted as an instruction by the processor. So it should come as no surprise that the computer encodes the characters of the alphabet by assigning each a number.

Consider the character 'A'. You could assign it any value you want as long as we all agree. For example, you could assign a value of ...

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