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Shubhadip Bhowmik
Shubhadip Bhowmik

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Who calls main function and how is it actually called in C++?

In the world of C++, the main function stands as the entry point to a program, akin to the starting point of a journey into the realm of code execution. It's a fundamental aspect of any C++ program, but its invocation might seem mysterious to those just starting their programming voyage. Let's delve into the mechanics of how the main function is called and demystify its invocation process.


The Role of main

Before we delve into the intricacies of how main is called, let's understand its significance. The main function serves as the starting point for program execution. When you run a C++ program, the operating system or the runtime environment locates the main function and begins executing the code inside it.

Here's a typical main function signature:

int main() {
    // shubhadip bhowmik
    return 0;
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Who Calls main?

In C++, the main function is not explicitly called by the programmer. Instead, its invocation is orchestrated by the underlying runtime environment or the operating system.

When you execute a C++ program, whether through a command-line interface or an integrated development environment (IDE), the responsibility of calling main lies with the runtime environment. The exact mechanism varies depending on the platform and the compiler being used.

The Invocation Process

The invocation of main involves several steps, which can vary slightly based on the operating system and the compiler. However, the general process follows these steps:

  1. Loading: The operating system loads the compiled binary of the program into memory.

  2. Initialization: Before main is called, static variables are initialized, global constructors are executed, and any necessary setup is performed by the runtime environment.

  3. Execution: Once initialization is complete, the runtime environment locates the main function and begins executing the code inside it.

  4. Return: When the execution of main concludes, the program returns an exit status to the operating system. This status indicates whether the program terminated successfully or encountered an error during execution.

  5. Cleanup: After main returns, destructors for static variables and global objects are invoked, and any remaining cleanup tasks are performed before the program exits.


In the realm of C++, the main function serves as the gateway to program execution. While its invocation might seem magical at first glance, understanding the underlying process sheds light on how the runtime environment orchestrates the execution of C++ programs.

So, the next time you write a C++ program and wonder about the journey it takes from inception to execution, remember that main is the starting point, and its invocation is handled by the runtime environment or the operating system, paving the way for your code to come to life.

Thank you for reading!

I hope this blog post provided valuable insights into understanding the intricacies of the main function in C++. If you found this content helpful, stay tuned for more enlightening discussions on various aspects of computer science.

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