Pointers are common to many programming languages. Notably, you will use the most of the time if you are a practitioner of coding using C or C++. Pointers in programming languages are associated with variable declaration. In this article, we, will not delve deep into understanding what pointers are. But we will introduce you to what they are and explore their usage in programming languages such as python and Java. In case you have any queries, our online pointers assignment tutors could be of great help to you.
What are the pointers?
With reference to computer science, pointers are objects used in programming languages and they store a memory address. Note that it’s not a variable itself. A memory address refers to a reference to memory. For example, take the instance of a page number on the index. Herein, the index is a pointer while the page number is a memory. The process of obtaining a value stored in the reference is known as referencing. Dereferencing in the above analogy is moving to the specific page. In all cases, much as it happens in the case of variables, a pointer must be declared before it can be used.
Pointers in C Programming.
As we have stated, you will find yourself using pointers in C than in any other programming language. This is because they are fun and easy to use. Additionally, they help minimize the cumbersome and boring task of doing repetitive tasks when transferring through variables. Learning to use pointers is a necessity in C as there are some tasks that become challenging to do without them. An example is dynamic memory allocation.
How do you declare a pointer?
The general syntax of declaring a variable in C takes the form shown below
Where type refers to the pointers base types and varname the pointers name, the asterisk is used to denote a pointer and will be used in all cases when you will be using pointers. It’s akin to the one used in multiplication. Most importantly, you should note that the data point for the specific point should go much with the variable. For the case of an integer, the variable should be an integer, likewise when the datatype is defined as strings.
Pointers in C++
Well, if pointers are so common in C, then they must be used in C++. Though some differences exist between the two but similarities between the two makes it hard to identify any differences. The similarities between the two are that they have the same code structure and syntax. We have already stated that a large number of similarities exist between C and C++. Therefore, the majority of what we defined in the previous section still applies here.
Pointers in python
Do pointers really exist in python? The answer to this would be unequivocal no. Python is a high-level programming language that puts much emphasis on its grammar. Pointers are known to increase the speed of a program, but python has a little emphasis on this. Python is more focused on the programmer writing logical and easily readable code.
To further support this, pointers stand against the “Zen of Python” and therefore it’s hard for them to exist. They are not easily readable and therefore cannot be used in python.
Pointers in Java programming.
Java, much like python, has no pointers. Instead, it has references that substitute pointers. References are references to a variable and they can also be used as an alias for the same variable.
Advantages of pointers.
- The main advantage of pointers is that they increase the speed and efficiency of a program.
- They are tools that make it easy to manipulate dynamic data.
- They increase the efficiency of handling arrays and day tables.
- With pointers, it’s more possible for a function to yield more than a single value.
Disadvantages of pointers.
- Pointers have to be initialized. Otherwise, it leads to a programming fault.
- Though it can be used to allocate dynamic memory, this allocated memory has to be freed explicitly.
- Sometimes they are slower as compared to normal variables.
- Utmost care has to be taken while updating the pointers with new values. The new values must adhere to the pointer data type. Failure to adhere to this would lead to memory corruption.