Polymorphic Data Structures in C/Glossary

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The location in memory where a variable is stored.
Address-of Operator
The ampersand (&), used to reference a variable's address instead of its value.
A variable passed to a function. The term argument is generally reserved for variables passed to main() at runtime, usually from the command line interface; see parameter.


Dereference Operator
The asterisk (*), used to access the value that a pointer points to as opposed to the pointer itself.
Dereference-Member Operator
A hyphen, followed by a greater-than sign (->), used to access the members of a union or structure through a pointer to that construct.


Global Variable
A variable declared independently of a function. Global variables are accessible anywhere in a program.


Local Variable
A variable declared in a function's definition. Local variables can only be used in the function that declared them.


Member Operator
The period (.), used to access members of a union or structure.


An argument passed to a function for processing. Parameters are not changed in the calling function, but rather they are copied and stored locally in the called function's runtime stack.
A variable that stores the address of another variable, eg. a variable that "points" to a value.


Static Variable
A variable declared inside a function. Static variables can only be used in the function that declared them.
A sequence of characters terminated with a null byte. Represented in C as an array of chars, where the length is at least ( string_length + 1 ) to account for the null byte.


See variable type.


A symbolic name given to a value with a known or unknown quantity. Variables always have type.
Variable Type
The way that the compiler interprets the bits stored at a variable, eg. what kind of data is stored and referenced by a variable.