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Difference Between Compile Time and Run Time With Examples

Published: 17th November, 2023

Arpit Mehar

Content Developer Associate at almaBetter

Understand the fundamental difference between compile time and run time in programming. Explore their distinct roles and impacts on code execution in this blog.

Unveiling the intricate layers of programming concepts understanding the difference between compile time and run time polymorphism is pivotal in mastering the art of software development. Specifically diving into the difference between run time and compile time polymorphism in C++, where the nuances between run time and compile time polymorphism shape the code execution behavior, this article aims to shed light on these crucial distinctions. Delving into the granular details of compile-time and run-time, we'll decipher how they influence polymorphism dynamics, encapsulating the essence of their roles in programming paradigms. Join us on this exploration to discern the pivotal difference between run time and compile time, unraveling their significance in C++ and beyond.

Compile Time vs Runtime Polymorphism

Compile-time and run-time polymorphism are key concepts in object-oriented programming languages like C++ and Java. They are associated with how a program resolves and executes methods or functions.

  • Also known as static polymorphism or early binding.
  • Occurs during compile-time, before the program runs.
  • Achieved through method overloading and operator overloading.
  • Method overloading allows multiple methods in the same class with the same name but different parameters. The number and types of arguments determine the appropriate method to be called during compilation.
  • Operator overloading enables defining how operators work with user-defined types.
  • Example in C++:
class MyClass {
    void display(int a) {
        // Some code
    void display(int a, int b) {
        // Some code

Run-time Polymorphism:

  • Also known as dynamic polymorphism or late binding.
  • Occurs during runtime, based on the actual type of object or method being called.
  • Achieved through method overriding and virtual functions.
  • Method overriding involves creating a method in a subclass with the same signature as a method in its superclass. The actual object type determines the appropriate method to be executed during runtime.
  • Virtual functions are in a base class overridden in derived classes, allowing the method to be resolved at runtime based on the actual object type.
  • Example in C++:
class Animal {
    virtual void sound() {
        cout << "Animal makes a sound\n";

class Dog : public Animal {
    void sound() override {
        cout << "Dog barks\n";

In summary, compile time vs run time: compile-time polymorphism is resolved based on the method's signature. In contrast, run-time polymorphism is determined at runtime based on the actual object type. Understanding these concepts is crucial in designing efficient and flexible software systems.


Understanding the nuances between run time vs compile time polymorphism illuminates the fundamental mechanisms governing method resolution in programming languages. In software development, the distinctions between these two forms of polymorphism, namely compile-time and run-time, stand as pivotal pillars shaping the behavior and efficiency of code execution.

The crux lies in their temporal nature: compile-time polymorphism resolves method calls during the compilation phase, relying on method signatures and overloading to determine the appropriate execution function. Conversely, run-time polymorphism defers method resolution until the program runs, utilizing inheritance, virtual functions, and method overriding to select the proper method based on the actual object type during runtime.

By comprehending the essence of compile time vs runtime and their respective roles in polymorphism, developers gain a deeper insight into crafting robust, flexible, and efficient software systems. Recognizing when to employ method overloading, operator overloading, or inheritance with virtual functions can significantly impact the program's performance and design.

Mastering the intricacies of compile-time vs runtime polymorphism empowers programmers to architect solutions that balance efficiency, flexibility, and maintainability. Embracing these concepts allows for creating more adaptable and scalable software architectures in the dynamic landscape of modern development.

Explore further, experiment, and leverage the potential of both compile-time and run-time polymorphism to create elegant, efficient, and versatile code that transcends the barriers of static and dynamic resolution in programming paradigms.

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