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Pointer vs Array in C

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 13 Jun, 2022

Most of the time, pointer and array accesses can be treated as acting the same, the major exceptions being: 

1) the sizeof operator 
o sizeof(array) returns the amount of memory used by all elements in array 
o sizeof(pointer) only returns the amount of memory used by the pointer variable itself 

2) the & operator 
o array is an alias for &array[0] and returns the address of the first element in array 
o &pointer returns the address of pointer 

3) a string literal initialization of a character array 
o char array[] = “abc” sets the first four elements in array to ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, and ‘\0’ 
o char *pointer = “abc” sets pointer to the address of the “abc” string (which may be stored in read-only memory and thus unchangeable) 

4) Pointer variable can be assigned a value whereas array variable cannot be.

int a[10];
int *p; 
p=a; /*legal*/
a=p; /*illegal*/ 

5) Arithmetic on pointer variable is allowed. 

p++; /*Legal*/
a++; /*illegal*/ 

6) Array is a collection of similar data types while pointer variable stores the address of another variable.

Please refer Difference between pointer and array in C? for more details. 

References: http://icecube.wisc.edu/~dglo/c_class/array_ptr.html
 

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