Thread: sizeof: determining the size of char array problems...

  1. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    even i am not sure of the value of 4 but from what i know it returns the size of the pointer. not the one it points to. i know that pointers also occupies its own memory address so pointers also have its size.

    hope i does not made you confuse...

    long * w;
    int * x;
    float * y;
    char * z;
    std::cout<< sizeof(w) <<std::endl;
    std::cout<< sizeof(x) <<std::endl;
    std::cout<< sizeof(y) <<std::endl;
    std::cout<< sizeof(z) <<std::endl;
    //all will return 4 the size of their pointers.

  2. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2003

    A pointer variable is a variable that stores an address in memory. An address in memory is a series of numbers. Normally, if you cout<< a pointer variable, you can see the address displayed in hexadecimal format. Try this:
    int nums[] = {1, 2, 3};
    However, if you try that on a pointer to a char array, you won't get an address. cout<< is programmed differently to handle pointers to char arrays. Instead of outputting the contents of the pointer variable, i.e. the address, cout<< goes to the address in memory contained in the pointer variable and tries to output all the values in the array located there. It looks for a '\0' to know when to stop. If there isn't a '\0' at the end of the char array, then cout<< will overrun the end of the array and output a bunch of junk. The main point is, in an attempt to understand what a pointer variable really contains, using cout<< on char arrays isn't insightful.

    The reason the code outputs 4 is because sizeof() returns the size of the pointer variable. A pointer variable contains an address, and an address takes up 4 bytes of memory. The reason the code outputs 1 is because the value at that location in memory, which is obtained by dereferencing the pointer, is a char, and by definition sizeof() returns 1 for a char type.
    Last edited by 7stud; 02-09-2006 at 02:43 AM.

  3. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Thank you.

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