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In general, header files contain declarations and definitions pertaining to functions defined elsewhere. In general, for any external function you call, there will be a header file which contains the prototype declaration for the function, along with any other definitions of constants or structures which you need to use when calling that function.

Header files let you keep shared declarations and definitions in a single central place, when those declarations and definitions must be kept consistent between separately-compiled source files.

Note that a header file does not actually contain the definitions of any external functions. After using #include to reference the header file describing some external library function(s), in many cases you will also have to explicitly request that a copy of that external library be read by the linker during the last stage of the compilation process so that the function definitions themselves can be read out of the library and copied into your program's executable.


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