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Pointers And Memory - Contents


Memory Drawing

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    Make A Drawing Memory drawings are the key to thinking about pointer code. When you are looking at code, thinking about how it will use memory at run time....make a quick drawing to work out your ideas. This article certainly uses drawings to show how pointers work. That's the way to do it.

    Sharing Two pointers which both refer to a single pointee are said to be "sharing". That two or more entities can cooperatively share a single memory structure is a key advantage of pointers in all computer languages. Pointer manipulation is just technique sharing is often the real goal. In Section 3 we will see how sharing can be used to provide efficient communication between parts of a program.

   Shallow and Deep Copying In particular, sharing can enable communication between two functions. One function passes a pointer to the value of interest to another function. Both functions can access the value of interest, but the value of interest itself is not copied. This communication is called "shallow" since instead of making and sending a (large) copy of the value of interest, a (small) pointer is sent and the value of interest is shared. The recipient needs to understand that they have a shallow copy, so they know not to change or delete it since it is shared. The alternative where a complete copy is made and sent is known as a "deep" copy. Deep copies are simpler in a way, since each function can change their copy without interfering with the other copy, but deep copies run slower because of all the copying.
The drawing below shows shallow and deep copying between two functions, A() and B(). In the shallow case, the smiley face is shared by passing a pointer between the two. In the deep case, the smiley face is copied, and each function gets their own...


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