Function doesn't return default value

function doesn't return a value on all code paths
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Here is my code:

bool BinarySearchTree::CheckIfTreeIsBinary(){
    bool isBinary=true;
    isBinary=CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate(root); // So if my tree is binary, this function does not return anything
                                               // and isBinary should remain true, but it is false.
    return isBinary;

bool BinarySearchTree::CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate(nodePtr Ptr){ 

            return false; // possibility 1 to return false

            return false; // possibility 2 to return false


In my function CheckIfTreeIsBinary, I have set boolean isBinary to true for default value. After that, isBinary is assigned to function CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate, which will not return anything if the tree is binary. The problem is that function CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate doesn't return anything if the tree is binary, but in the end, isBinary is false.

I think I see where your misunderstanding is; you're expecting isBinary to be updated only if CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate returns a value.

That's not how it works - a function that has a non-void return type must always return something. If the function doesn't explicitly return anything - for instance, by reaching the end of the function - the program has undefined behaviour.

There is no way for you to determine whether a function returned anything or not, and you must return something on every path through the function.

You can do this with one big expression,

bool BinarySearchTree::isBST(nodePtr Ptr){
    return Ptr == nullptr
        || (   (Ptr->left == nullptr || (Ptr->left->data < Ptr->data && isBST(Ptr->left)))
            && (Ptr->right == nullptr || (Ptr->right->data > Ptr->data && isBST(Ptr->right))));

or piece by piece:

bool BinarySearchTree::isBST(nodePtr Ptr){
    // An empty tree is a BST.
    if (Ptr == nullptr)
        return true;
    // If the left subtree is not a BST, neither is the entire tree.
    else if (Ptr->left != nullptr && (Ptr->left->data > Ptr->data || !isBST(Ptr->left)))
        return false;
    // If the right subtree is not a BST, neither is the entire tree.
    else if (Ptr->right != nullptr && (Ptr->right->data < Ptr->data || !isBST(Ptr->right)))
        return false;
    // All tests passed.
        return true;

Why doesn't this function return anything? - JavaScript, I'm practicing simple JS functions but don't understand why this function doesn't return area: function rectangleArea(width, height) { let area  A function relates an input to an output. It is like a machine that has an input and an output. And the output is related somehow to the input.

The problem is that CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate does not have an explicit return value on all program control paths.

That means that the behaviour of your program is undefined.

Your compiler will warn you of this, and it's your job to heed those warnings.

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Your recursive logic is incorrect. All paths in a function should return a value and you should always check the return value of recursive calls to CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate. There's no concept of 'a value remaining the same'. Here's what I think you are trying to achieve, but it's quite complicated.

bool BinarySearchTree::CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate(nodePtr Ptr) { 
        // check the left sub tree is ok
        (Ptr->left == NULL ||                 // NULL is ok OR
            (Ptr->data >= Ptr->left->data &&  // data >= left->data && left is ok
                 CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate(Ptr->left))) &&
        // and check the right sub tree is ok
        (Ptr->right == NULL ||                // NULL is ok OR
            (Ptr->data <= Ptr->right->data && // data <= right->data && right is ok

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Add one more base condition in CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate() to set true, because once you assign isBinary to CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate() it will set false by default, and you need a return value to get true.

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  • You're not returning anything from CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate.
  • @juanchopanza - Yes, exactly. But I would like my isBinary to remain true then. Is that possible?
  • Seems that you're confusing the class BinarySearchTree member variable with the function CheckIfTreeIsBinary's. The isBinary variable will only change once CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate returns. If a function specifies a return type of bool you have to return either true or false; not returning anything is not something you should be doing (I think it's 'undefined behavior'). Consider writing what you're trying to do, then how you intend to do it. See if it matches what your code is actually doing (e.g. define what conditions need to be met so it means its a binary tree).
  • "The problem is that function CheckIfTreeIsBinaryPrivate doesn't return anything" ...yes thats the problem, just make sure you return on each path and it should be fine. Not really clear what is the question, as you already seem to know the answer
  • Pedantic point: Technically, a function that fails to return something only introduces undefined behavior if the return value is used by the caller. Per N1570, 5.9.1 Function definitions, item #12: "If the } that terminates a function is reached, and the value of the function call is used by the caller, the behavior is undefined." In this case, the return value is used by the caller, so your point stands, just noting that it's legal (if odd) to have a non-void function that fails to return anything in weird cases.