Glossary: Abstract Base Class

Through the mechanism of inheritance more specific classes can be developed from more generic ones. It can happen, particularly in deep inheritance trees, that the classes at the base of the tree are so generic as to be abstract; there being no single implementation that can do justice to the concept the classes embodies. In C++ such classes are called abstract base classes. It is not possible to create (i.e. instantiate) objects of such a class, their only purpose is to act as base classes on which other classes may be built.

For example, the ROOT class TIterator is abstract, it has the member function Next, which is used to iterate over the members of a collection, but it is only in classes that inherit from it that way the collection is managed is sufficiently specific that the Next function can be realised.

See OO Concepts: Interfaces & Abstract Classes
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