What Is Pointer in Data Structure Example?


Angela Bailey

In data structures, a pointer is a variable that stores the memory address of another variable. Pointers allow for efficient manipulation and access to data in memory, making them an essential concept in programming.

Understanding Pointers

Pointers provide a way to indirectly refer to a value stored in memory. Instead of directly storing the value itself, a pointer holds the memory address where the value is stored. By accessing this address, we can retrieve or modify the value.


int num = 5;
int *ptr = #

In this example, we have declared an integer variable num, which stores the value 5. We also declare an integer pointer ptr.

The * before ptr indicates that it is a pointer variable. We then assign the address of num to ptr using the & operator.


  • A pointer must be declared with the same data type as the variable it points to.
  • The & operator is used to get the memory address of a variable.

Dereferencing Pointers

Dereferencing a pointer means accessing the value at the memory address it points to. This can be done by using the dereference operator (*). Let’s modify our previous example to demonstrate this:

int num = 5;
int *ptr = #

printf("Value of num: %d\n", *ptr);

The output will be:

Value of num: 5

By using the dereference operator * with ptr, we can access the value stored at the memory address it points to.

Pointers and Data Structures

Pointers are commonly used in data structures to create dynamic structures that can grow or shrink as needed. They allow for efficient memory allocation and deallocation, making them useful in scenarios where the size of data is unknown or constantly changing.


struct Node {
    int data;
    struct Node *next;

struct Node *head = NULL;

In this example, we define a structure Node that contains an integer data and a pointer next. The pointer next allows us to link multiple nodes together, creating a linked list. The variable head is a pointer that points to the first node in the list.

The Power of Pointers in Data Structures

The use of pointers in data structures provides flexibility and efficiency. Pointers allow us to create complex structures like trees, graphs, and linked lists by connecting individual nodes together. They enable us to traverse and manipulate these structures efficiently, resulting in optimized algorithms and better performance.

In conclusion, pointers are a fundamental concept in data structures. They provide a way to indirectly access and manipulate data stored in memory. By understanding pointers and their usage in data structures, you can unlock powerful programming capabilities.

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