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What Is An Array In C Programming?

What Is An Array In C Programming

If you are developing C apps with a C or C++ IDE that is compatible with Microsoft C++ build tools, one of the most important parts of C programming is using data in memory efficiently. Arrays in C and C++ are one of the fastest tools in the C language. If you are asking what an array is in C programming or C++, we explain with examples below.

What is an array in C programming ?

In the C and C++ programming languages, in other programming languages too, an array is a collection of similar data items (int, float, char, etc) stored at a memory location in blocks. We can easily access the elements of an array by using indices of an array that has the value of that type recorded in the memory (RAM, ROM, or other media). Arrays can be used to store main data types like int, float, double, char, or some other data types such as structs, pointers, or objects in C++. Arrays are generally static arrays that have constant size. Their size in the memory is equal to the multiplication of the number of elements and the size of the element.

What is array in C programming – is there an example?

An array is a group of similar elements, data types, that are stored in a memory location. Array elements are defined by the data type and the variable then its size in brackets. For example, if you want to define an array with char elements. Array size is declared in its definition. They are static in memory.

Array elements can be accessed using the index (position) of the element in the array. Note that array elements are always starts from zero. For example,

In this example above, 3rd element refers to 2nd index value ( starting from 0, 1, 2) . The output of this example will be “3rd char: C”.

Here are more array examples of some data types,

An array can have one or more dimensional data types. For example here are 1D, 2D, 3D array examples of a float type,

What is the advantage of an array in C programming?

The array is one of the most useful memory elements in C language, you can retrieve or sort the data efficiently and relatively quickly. They are mostly preferred in faster operations in games, and some AI apps. They are very optimal in the memory usage of elements. Their size is equal to the size of the memory allocated, no more. Arrays are easy to read data from a random value and we can easily retrieve any data element located at an index position. 

What are the disadvantages of an array In C programming?

Generally, arrays (static ones) have a size limit, you can store only the fixed number of elements in an array. You can not resize them. But there are dynamic arrays and you can use those instead. Users may achieve unwanted memory allocations with static arrays which may cause a crash or suspension of an app. They are not safe if a developer doesn’t know or fails to check the size and extent of the array. Having an array of a fixed size with a lot of elements may cause a excessive memory usage.


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About author

33+ years of coding with more than 30+ programming languages, mostly C++ on Windows, Android, Mac-OS, iOS, Linux and some other operating systems. Dr. Yilmaz Yoru was born in 1974, Eskisehir-Turkey. He graduated from the department of Mechanical Engineering of Eskisehir Osmangazi University in 1997. One year later he started to work in the same university as an assistant. He received his MSc and PhD degrees from the same department of the same university. He has married and he is a father of a son. Some of his interests are Programming, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Artificial Intelligence. He also likes the graphical 2D & 3D design and high-end innovations.
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