Throughout an introduction to computer science class,
you may hear references made to wonderful things called
pointers, but until you experience them for yourself,
you're missing out on a wonderful world of possibilities.
Pointers are a necessary facet of almost every computer program
written, whether for personal, academic, or commercial use.
This tutorial will explain when and how to use them.
What exactly is a pointer? Stated simply, a pointer is nothing
more than a variable that holds an address in the
computer's memory. This is where a pointer gets its name. A
pointer variable holds the address of a certain piece of
memory in the computer; in other words, a pointer points at
a specific location in memory. In essence a pointer is nothing
more than a variable that holds a number that is the address of
a specific memory location.
Pointers and Memory
For now, let's think of memory as a big blob of storage space
where we can put information that we later want to retrieve
(this isn't far from the truth).
Let's say we have a simple program as follows:
steve = 220;
What happens when we run this program? First, the computer
sets aside a little bit of memory to hold the integer