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A TUTORIAL ON POINTERS AND ARRAYS IN C by Ted Jensen Version 1.2

This C++ tutorial covers the details of A TUTORIAL ON POINTERS AND ARRAYS IN C by Ted Jensen Version 1.2 .In this PDF couers the If you want to be proficient in the writing of code in the C programming language, you must have a thorough working knowledge of how to use pointers. Unfortunately, C pointers appear to represent a stumbling block to newcomers, particularly those coming from other computer languages such as Fortran, Pascal or Basic.

A TUTORIAL ON POINTERS AND ARRAYS IN C
by Ted Jensen
Version 1.2 (PDF Version)
Sept. 2003
This material is hereby placed in the public domain
Available in various formats via
http://pweb.netcom.com/~tjensen/ptr/cpoint.htm

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE 2
This document is intended to introduce pointers to beginning programmers in the C programming language. Over several years of reading and contributing to various conferences on C including those on the FidoNet and UseNet, I have noted a large number of newcomers to C appear to have a difficult time in grasping the fundamentals of pointers. I therefore undertook the task of trying to explain them in plain language with lots of examples.

INTRODUCTION 4
If you want to be proficient in the writing of code in the C programming language, you must have a thorough working knowledge of how to use pointers. Unfortunately, C pointers appear to represent a stumbling block to newcomers, particularly those coming from other computer languages such as Fortran, Pascal or Basic.

CHAPTER 1: What is a pointer? 5
One of those things beginners in C find difficult is the concept of pointers. The purpose of this tutorial is to provide an introduction to pointers and their use to these beginners. I have found that often the main reason beginners have a problem with pointers is that they have a weak or minimal feeling for variables, (as they are used in C). Thus we start with a discussion of C variables in general.

CHAPTER 2: Pointer types and Arrays 9
Okay, let's move on. Let us consider why we need to identify the type of variable that a
pointer points to, as in:
int *ptr;
One reason for doing this is so that later, once ptr "points to" something, if we write:
*ptr = 2;

CHAPTER 3: Pointers and Strings 14
The study of strings is useful to further tie in the relationship between pointers and arrays. It also makes it easy to illustrate how some of the standard C string functions can be implemented. Finally it illustrates how and when pointers can and should be passed to functions.

CHAPTER 4: More on Strings 19
Well, we have progressed quite a way in a short time! Let's back up a little and look at what was done in Chapter 3 on copying of strings but in a different light. Consider the following function:

CHAPTER 5: Pointers and Structures 22
As you may know, we can declare the form of a block of data containing different data types by means of a structure declaration. For example, a personnel file might contain structures which look something like:

CHAPTER 6: Some more on Strings, and Arrays of Strings 26
Well, let's go back to strings for a bit. In the following all assignments are to be understood as being global, i.e. made outside of any function, including main().
We pointed out in an earlier chapter that we could write:
char my_string[40] = "Ted";

CHAPTER 7: More on Multi-Dimensional Arrays 30
In the previous chapter we noted that given
#define ROWS 5
#define COLS 10
int multi[ROWS][COLS];

CHAPTER 8: Pointers to Arrays 32
Pointers, of course, can be "pointed at" any type of data object, including arrays. While that was evident when we discussed program 3.1, it is important to expand on how we do this when it comes to multi-dimensional arrays.
To review, in Chapter 2 we stated that given an array of integers we could point an integer pointer at that array using:

CHAPTER 9: Pointers and Dynamic Allocation of Memory 34
There are times when it is convenient to allocate memory at run time using malloc(), calloc(), or other allocation functions. Using this approach permits postponing the decision on the size of the memory block need to store an array, for example, until run time. Or it permits using a section of memory for the storage of an array of integers at one point in time, and then when that memory is no longer needed it can be freed up for other uses, such as the storage of an array of structures.

CHAPTER 10: Pointers to Functions 42
Up to this point we have been discussing pointers to data objects. C also permits the declaration of pointers to functions. Pointers to functions have a variety of uses and some of them will be discussed here.

EPILOG 53
I have written the preceding material to provide an introduction to pointers for newcomers to C. In C, the more one understands about pointers the greater flexibility one has in the writing of code. The above expands on my first effort at this which was entitled ptr_help.txt and found in an early version of Bob Stout's collection of C code SNIPPETS. The content in this version has been updated from that in PTRTUTOT.ZIP included in SNIP9510.ZIP.

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On date : 07.31.08

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