13 Overloading [over]

13.3 Overload resolution [over.match]

13.3.3 Best viable function [over.match.best] Implicit conversion sequences [over.best.ics] Reference binding [over.ics.ref]

When a parameter of reference type binds directly ([dcl.init.ref]) to an argument expression, the implicit conversion sequence is the identity conversion, unless the argument expression has a type that is a derived class of the parameter type, in which case the implicit conversion sequence is a derived-to-base Conversion ([over.best.ics]). [ Example:

struct A {};
struct B : public A {} b;
int f(A&);
int f(B&);
int i = f(b);                   // calls f(B&), an exact match, rather than
                                // f(A&), a conversion

 — end example ] If the parameter binds directly to the result of applying a conversion function to the argument expression, the implicit conversion sequence is a user-defined conversion sequence ([over.ics.user]), with the second standard conversion sequence either an identity conversion or, if the conversion function returns an entity of a type that is a derived class of the parameter type, a derived-to-base Conversion.

When a parameter of reference type is not bound directly to an argument expression, the conversion sequence is the one required to convert the argument expression to the underlying type of the reference according to [over.best.ics]. Conceptually, this conversion sequence corresponds to copy-initializing a temporary of the underlying type with the argument expression. Any difference in top-level cv-qualification is subsumed by the initialization itself and does not constitute a conversion.

Except for an implicit object parameter, for which see [over.match.funcs], a standard conversion sequence cannot be formed if it requires binding an lvalue reference other than a reference to a non-volatile const type to an rvalue or binding an rvalue reference to an lvalue other than a function lvalue. [ Note: This means, for example, that a candidate function cannot be a viable function if it has a non-const lvalue reference parameter (other than the implicit object parameter) and the corresponding argument is a temporary or would require one to be created to initialize the lvalue reference (see [dcl.init.ref]).  — end note ]

Other restrictions on binding a reference to a particular argument that are not based on the types of the reference and the argument do not affect the formation of a standard conversion sequence, however. [ Example: a function with an “lvalue reference to int” parameter can be a viable candidate even if the corresponding argument is an int bit-field. The formation of implicit conversion sequences treats the int bit-field as an int lvalue and finds an exact match with the parameter. If the function is selected by overload resolution, the call will nonetheless be ill-formed because of the prohibition on binding a non-const lvalue reference to a bit-field ([dcl.init.ref]).  — end example ]

The binding of a reference to an expression that is reference-compatible with added qualification influences the rank of a standard conversion; see [over.ics.rank] and [dcl.init.ref].