Saturday, December 11, 2010

Initializing arrays.

When declaring a regular array of local scope (within a function, for example), if we do not specify otherwise, its elements will not be initialized to any value by default, so their content will be undetermined until we store some value in them. The elements of global and static arrays, on the other hand, are automatically initialized with their default values, which for all fundamental types this means they are filled with zeros.

In both cases, local and global, when we declare an array, we have the possibility to assign initial values to each one of its elements by enclosing the values in braces { }. For example:

int billy [5] = { 16, 2, 77, 40, 12071 }; 

This declaration would have created an array like this:

The amount of values between braces { } must not be larger than the number of elements that we declare for the array between square brackets [ ]. For example, in the example of array billy we have declared that it has 5 elements and in the list of initial values within braces { } we have specified 5 values, one for each element.

When an initialization of values is provided for an array, C++ allows the possibility of leaving the square brackets empty [ ]. In this case, the compiler will assume a size for the array that matches the number of values included between braces { }:

int billy [] = { 16, 2, 77, 40, 12071 };

After this declaration, array billy would be 5 ints long, since we have provided 5 initialization values.

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