C++ is widely used in the software industry, and remains one of the most popular languages ever created. Some of its application domains include systems software, application software, device drivers, embedded software, high-performance server and client applications, and entertainment software such as video games. Several groups provide both free and proprietary C++ compiler software, including the GNU Project, Microsoft, Intel, Borland and others.
The language began as enhancements to C, first adding classes, then virtual functions, operator overloading, multiple inheritance, templates, and exception handling among other features. After years of development, the C++ programming language standard was ratified in 1998 as ISO/IEC 14882:1998. That standard is still current, but is amended by the 2003 technical corrigendum, ISO/IEC 14882:2003. The next standard version (known informally as C++0x) is in development.
C++ provides more than 30 operators, covering basic arithmetic, bit manipulation, indirection, comparisons, logical operations and others. Almost all operators can be overloaded for user-defined types, with a few notable exceptions such as member access (. and .*). The rich set of overloadable operators is central to using C++ as a domain specific language. The overloadable operators are also an essential part of many advanced C++ programming techniques, such as smart pointers. Overloading an operator does not change the precedence of calculations involving the operator, nor does it change the number of operands that the operator uses (any operand may however be ignored).
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