Array of structs instead of an array with pointers to structs?

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Paminu, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. Paminu

    Paminu Guest

    Why make an array of pointers to structs, when it is possible to just make
    an array of structs?

    I have this struct:

    struct test {
    int a;
    int b;

    I have then made an array:

    struct test testarray[5];

    I would then like to shift all the elements one index to the right and
    afterwards insert a new pkt struct at index 0.

    something like this:

    I would like to insert 3 different test structs with "b": 10, 20, and 30.

    When I iterate through the testarray and make a printout of testarray.b,
    I should see something like this:

    10, 0, 0, 0, 0
    20, 10, 0, 0, 0
    30, 20, 10, 0, 0

    For this to work I have made this function:

    void insertIntoBuffer(struct test tt)
    int c;
    for(c=3; c>=0; c--)
    testarray[c+1] = testarray[c];

    testarray[0] = tt;
    int i;
    for (i = 0; i < 5; i++ )
    printf("Added b %d\n", testarray.b);


    It seems to work fine, so I can't seem to see any reason to mess around with
    an array of pointers.

    Are there anything that I cannot do with this simple solution that would be
    possible with an array of pointers to structs?
    Paminu, Oct 11, 2005
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  2. Paminu

    Singamsetty Guest

    ......Observe that everytime you insert a new element into the array you
    are using a for loop to shift all general the complexity
    of this function is O(n), which can be achieved in constant time O(1)
    if you use pointers (linked list) and add a new element at the head of
    the list.

    - Singamsetty
    Singamsetty, Oct 11, 2005
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  3. Paminu

    Paminu Guest

    Ok so the "only" difference between regular arrays and pointers are the
    Paminu, Oct 11, 2005
  4. Paminu

    Mike Wahler Guest


    An array is a collection of one or more objects of the same type.
    A pointer is a single object. Depending upon what you're doing,
    one may be more useful than the other.

    Mike Wahler, Oct 11, 2005
  5. Paminu

    Singamsetty Guest

    .........There are always trade-offs between pointers and arrays. It all
    depends on what you are trying to do. Pointers are not as efficient as
    arrays when it comes to storing a fixed amount of data, which requires
    a non-sequential access.

    - Singamsetty
    Singamsetty, Oct 11, 2005
  6. Paminu

    Eric Sosman Guest

    Paminu wrote On 10/11/05 14:30,:
    More generally, "Why make an array of pointers to X, when it
    is possible to just make an array of X?"

    The principal reason is flexibility. The size of an array
    is fixed when you create it and cannot be changed, but with
    pointers you can start using malloc() and friends to let your
    data structures automatically adjust to the "problem size."
    Also, pointers let you build data structures that just don't
    work with plain arrays -- for example, the array of pointers
    might contain several pointers to the same struct instance.

    In some settings an array of pointers can lead to speed
    improvements. For example, suppose you've got ten thousand
    very large struct objects and you want to use qsort() to put
    them in order. Even if the structs themselves do happen to
    reside in an array, you might do better to build an array of
    pointers to them and use qsort() to rearrange the pointers:
    instead of sloshing all those 792-byte structs back and forth
    to reorganize the array, qsort() can just move small 4- or 8-
    byte pointers around and may well run faster. You could use
    several such "parallel" pointer arrays to sort the big array
    of structs in different ways simultaneously: one pointer array
    would be sorted by telephone number, another by postal code,
    another by credit card balance, and so on. It probably uses
    less memory to store one array of big structs and three arrays
    of small pointers than to store three separate copies of all
    those structs -- and if you're making changes to them, you'd
    need to remember to change every copy ...

    Pointer arrays are not The Magic Solution to every problem,
    and it's silly to use them when you don't need them. But there
    is certainly no reason to avoid them, and many circumstances
    when they are the tool of choice.
    Eric Sosman, Oct 11, 2005
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