C Pointers

Pointers in C language are variable that stores/point the address to another variable. And the pointers in C is used to allocate memory dynamically i.e. run time. Pointers will allow the passing of arrays and strings to functions more effectively.

Syntax: data_type *var_name; 

Pointers in C with Examples

  • Pointers reduce the length and complexity of a program.
  • And also increase the processing speed
  • These make possible to return more than one value from the functions.
  • The size of any pointer is 2byte(for a 16bit compiler)
  • Always pointers are initialized to null. i.e int*p = null.
  • While the value of the pointers are 0
  • & symbol is used to get the address of the variable.
  • * symbol is used to get the value of the variable, that the pointer is pointing to.
  • The content of a pointer is always a whole number i.e. address.

Example



#include <stdio.h>
int main(){
int *ptr, q;
q=50;
ptr=&q;/* address of q is assigned to ptr */
printf("%d", *ptr);/*display q's value using ptr variable */
return 0;
}

Output: 50

Example 2

#include<stdio.h>
int main () {
int var = 20;/* actual variable declaration */
int *ip; /* pointer variable declaration */
ip = &var; /* store address of var in pointer variable*/
printf("Address of var variable: %x\n", &var );
printf("Address stored in ip variable: %x\n", ip );/* address stored in pointer variable */
printf("Value of *ip variable: %d\n", *ip ); /* access the value using the pointer */
return 0;}

pointer to pointer

A pointer can point to another pointer i.e they can store the address of others are known as “double pointer” or “pointer to pointer”. When we define a pointer to a pointer, the first pointer contains the address of the second pointer, which points to the location that contains the actual value.

pointer to pointer in C

Example

#include<stdio.h>
int main() {
   int  var;
   int  *ptr;
   int  **pptr;
   var = 2000;
   /*take the address of var */
   ptr = &var;
   /*take the address of ptr using address of operator & */
   pptr = &ptr;
   /*take the value using pptr */
   printf("Value of var = %d\n", var );
   printf("Value available at *ptr = %d\n", *ptr );
   printf("Value available at **pptr = %d\n", **pptr);
   return 0;
}

Output
Value of var = 2000
Value available at *ptr = 2000
Value available at **pptr = 2000

Passing pointers to functions

Pointers can also be passed as an argument to a function. With this, they can be called as a reference as well as an array can be passed as a reference.

Example

#include<stdio.h>
#include<time.h>
void getSeconds(unsigned long *par);
int main () {
   unsigned long sec;
   getSeconds( &sec );
/*print the actual value */
   printf("Number of seconds: %ld\n", sec );
   return 0;
}

void getSeconds(unsigned long *par) {
/*get the current number of seconds*/
*par = time( NULL );
  return;
}

Output
Number of seconds: 1294450468

Function pointers

It is used for storing the address of a function. function pointers can also be called like a function in C.

Example

#include <stdio.h>
int main(){
int num=123;
int *pr2; //A normal pointer pr2
int **pr1;//This pointer pr2 is a double pointerpr2 = # /* Assigning the address of variable num to the * pointer 
pr2*/pr1 = &pr2; /* Assigning the address of pointer pr2 to the * pointer-to-pointer pr1*/
/* Possible ways to find value of variable num*/
printf("\n Value of num is: %d", num);
printf("\n Value of num using pr2 is: %d", *pr2);
printf("\n Value of num using pr1 is: %d", **pr1);
/*Possible ways to find address of num*/
printf("\n Address of num is: %p", &num);
printf("\n Address of num using pr2 is: %p", pr2);
printf("\n Address of num using pr1 is: %p", *pr1);/*Find value of pointer*/
printf("\n Value of Pointer pr2 is: %p", pr2);
printf("\n Value of Pointer pr2 using pr1 is: %p", *pr1);/*Ways to find address of pointer*/
printf("\n Address of Pointer pr2 is:%p",&pr2);
printf("\n Address of Pointer pr2 using pr1 is:%p",pr1);/*Double pointer value and address*/
printf("\n Value of Pointer pr1 is:%p",pr1);
printf("\n Address of Pointer pr1 is:%p",&pr1);
return 0;}

Output
Value of num is: 123
Value of num using pr2 is: 123
Value of num using pr1 is: 123
Address of num is: XX771230
Address of num using pr2 is: XX771230
Address of num using pr1 is: XX771230
Value of Pointer pr2 is: XX771230
Value of Pointer pr2 using pr1 is: XX771230
Address of Pointer pr2 is: 66X123X1
Address of Pointer pr2 using pr1 is: 66X123X1
Value of Pointer pr1 is: 66X123X1
Address of Pointer pr1 is: XX661111

NULL Pointers

A pointer that is assigned NULL is called a null pointer. And the NULL pointer is a constant with a value of zero defined in several standard libraries.

Example

#include<stdio.h>
int main() {
int  *ptr = NULL;
printf("The value of ptr is : %x\n", ptr  );
 return 0;
}

Output
The value of ptr is 0