What Is Dynamically Allocated Array in Data Structure?

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Heather Bennett

In data structure, an array is a collection of elements that are stored in contiguous memory locations. Each element in the array can be accessed using its index value. In some cases, it may be necessary to dynamically allocate an array, which means that the size of the array is determined at runtime rather than at compile time.

What is Dynamic Memory Allocation?

Dynamic memory allocation is a process in which memory is allocated or deallocated during the execution of a program. It allows the flexibility to create data structures of varying sizes based on user input or other factors.

The dynamically allocated arrays are created using pointers and the ‘new’ operator in C++ or ‘malloc’ function in C. When an array is dynamically allocated, memory is allocated from the heap rather than the stack.

Advantages of Dynamically Allocated Arrays

Dynamically allocating arrays offers several advantages:

  • Flexibility: Unlike statically allocated arrays, dynamic arrays can be resized during runtime to accommodate changing data requirements.
  • Efficiency: Memory for dynamic arrays is allocated only when needed and can be deallocated when no longer required, making efficient use of system resources.
  • Scalability: Dynamic arrays can grow or shrink as needed, allowing for scalability in handling large amounts of data.

Dynamically Allocating Arrays in C++

In C++, dynamically allocating an array involves using the ‘new’ operator. The basic syntax for dynamically allocating an array is as follows:

Type* pointer_name = new Type[size];

Here, ‘Type’ represents the data type of the elements in the array, ‘pointer_name’ is the name of the pointer that will store the address of the dynamically allocated array, and ‘size’ represents the number of elements in the array.

For example, to dynamically allocate an integer array of size 5:

int* myArray = new int[5];

Dynamically Allocating Arrays in C

In C, dynamically allocating an array involves using the ‘malloc’ function. The basic syntax for dynamically allocating an array in C is as follows:

Type* pointer_name = (Type*) malloc(size * sizeof(Type));
int* myArray = (int*) malloc(5 * sizeof(int));

Deallocating Dynamically Allocated Arrays

It is important to deallocate memory for dynamically allocated arrays once they are no longer needed to prevent memory leaks. In C++, you can use the ‘delete[]’ operator to deallocate a dynamic array:

delete[] myArray;

In C, you can use the ‘free()’ function to deallocate a dynamic array:

free(myArray);

In conclusion,

Dynamically allocated arrays provide flexibility, efficiency, and scalability in managing data structures. They allow for dynamic resizing of arrays at runtime and efficient use of memory resources. Whether you are using C++ or C, understanding the syntax for dynamically allocating and deallocating arrays is crucial to effectively manage memory in your programs.

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