programming languages What is the definition of pointer?

It is said to be good practice to assign NULL to the pointers currently not in use. As the name suggests, these are the pointers that point to the integer values. If you print the address of a variable on the screen, it will look like a totally random number (moreover, it can be different from run to run).

defination of pointer

The above syntax is used to define a pointer to a variable. We can also define pointers to functions, structures, etc. Traditionally, we access the array elements using its index, but this method can be eliminated by using pointers. Pointers also have a secondary role in c/c++ in that they often point at items allocated on the heap rather than the stack. This is differentiation is often not captured in other languages. Other languages tend to avoid the term „pointer“ and use „reference“ or „alias“ instead.

Instead of pointing to a data value, they point to another pointer. The pointer declared here will point to some random memory address as it is not initialized. After declaring a pointer, we initialize it like standard variables with a variable address. If pointers in C programming are not uninitialized and used in the program, the results are unpredictable and potentially disastrous.

The Null Pointers are those pointers that do not point to any memory location. They can be created by assigning a NULL value to the pointer. Like variables, pointers in C programming have to be declared before they can be used in your program. Pointers can be named anything you want as long as they obey C’s naming rules. The Pointer in C, is a variable that stores address of another variable. A pointer can also be used to refer to another pointer function.

C++ Variables and Constants

There are several other relevant SO discussions on the subject, but I think that these were the most relevant. Search for ‚pointers [C++]‘ in the search window (or ‚pointers [c]‘) and you will get more information as well. As others have said already, they are variables that hold the address of some other variable. I wouldn’t give you a picture of my house, or a scale model of my house; I’d just give you the address. A pointer to a pointer (also known as a double pointer) stores the address of another pointer.

  • If we declare a variable v of type int, v will actually store a value.
  • Void pointers are pointers that point to a value that has no type (and thus also an undetermined length and undetermined dereferencing properties).
  • If we assign this value to a non-constant pointer of the same type, then we can access the elements of the array using this pointer.
  • In C programming language, pointers and arrays are closely related.
  • We generally use the ( & ) addressof operator to get the memory address of a variable and then store it in the pointer variable.

In C++, by default arguments are passed by value and the changes made in the called function will not reflect in the passed variable. The changes are made into a clone made by the called function. If wish to modify the original copy directly (especially in passing huge object or array) and/or avoid the overhead of cloning, we use pass-by-reference. Pass-by-Reference with Reference Arguments does not require any clumsy syntax for referencing and dereferencing.

I would say that any operation on pointers needs to be supported or not depending on the structure of the language. A pointer should point to a valid address but not necessarily to valid elements (like for arrays). An array name contains the address of the first element of the array which acts like a constant pointer. It means, the address stored in the array name can’t be changed. The pointers pointing to a constant value that cannot be modified are called pointers to a constant. Here we can only access the data pointed by the pointer, but cannot modify it.

So, thinking about operations that can be performed on a pointer, anything other than a „deference“ is really implementation dependent. Being able to do pointer arithmetic is often useful, but depends entirely on the underlying implementation. String literals are arrays containing null-terminated character sequences.

Pointer Dereferencing

The use of pointers allows low-level memory access, dynamic memory allocation, and many other functionality in C. A pointer is defined as a derived data type that can store the address of other C variables or a memory location. We can access and manipulate the data stored in that memory location using pointers. This is a special type of pointer available in C++ which represents the absence of type. Void pointers are pointers that point to a value that has no type (and thus also an undetermined length and undetermined dereferencing properties). This means that void pointers have great flexibility as they can point to any data type.

We can create a null pointer by assigning null value during the pointer declaration. This method is useful when you do not have any address assigned to the pointer. In C language, we can define a pointer that stores the memory address of another pointer. Such pointers are called double-pointers or pointers-to-pointer.

A pointer type may be derived from a function type, an object type, or an incomplete type, called the referenced type. A pointer type describes an object whose value provides a reference to an entity of the referenced type. A pointer type derived from the referenced type T is sometimes called ‘‘pointer to T’’. The construction of a pointer type from a referenced type is called ‘‘pointer type derivation’’. A constant pointer points to the fixed memory location, i.e. we cannot change the memory address stored inside the constant pointer.

defination of pointer

In many C flavoured languages, and some older languages like Fortran, one can use Pointers. If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article using See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or if you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.

To get the address of a variable, we use the ampersand (&)operator, placed before the name of a variable whose address we need. Pointer initialization is done with the following syntax. The unary & operator yields the address of its operand. If the operand

defination of pointer

has type ‘‘type’’, the result has type ‘‘pointer to type’’. Most modern languages hide this complexity by figuring out when pointers are useful and optimizing that for you.

In C programming language, pointers and arrays are closely related. The value of this pointer constant is the address of the first element. For example, if we have an array named val then val and &val[0] can be used interchangeably. A pointer is said to be a wild pointer if it is not being initialized to anything. One should always be careful while working with wild pointers.

defination of pointer

Being variables they need to support operations (they would be useless otherwise), the operations supported may vary depending on the programming language. One of the main properties of void pointers is that they cannot be dereferenced. Pointer initialization is the process where we assign some initial value to the pointer variable. We generally use the ( & ) addressof operator to get the memory address of a variable and then store it in the pointer variable.

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