Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Bill Cunningham, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. I think alot of my problem is not understanding what a function is
    asking for when it's asking for a pointer. If it's asking for a pointer is
    it wanting what the pointer is pointing too. memset for example.

    void *memset (void *s, int c, size_t n);

    that first parameter. Is it want a pointer to something or to be passed what
    the pointer is pointing to. For example.

    int *p;

    or memset(&p,0,sizeof(int));

    Is such a thing as a function that wants this?

    function (int &a, short &b);

    If something is defined like that would you just pass the pointer?

    Bill Cunningham, Apr 15, 2014
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  2. Hum. Is this pass by reference? I want C not C++.

    Bill Cunningham, Apr 15, 2014
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  3. C is pass by value (or call by value). If you want a function
    call to be able to change something, you pass a pointer to
    the something.

    But also you often (usually) pass a pointer when you are
    passing an array or structure. Before ANSI C, you couldn't pass
    structures directly, only through pointers. ANSI allows it, but
    it isn't used all that often.

    -- glen
    glen herrmannsfeldt, Apr 15, 2014
  4. In your ¶2 I believe I understand that. But my parameters if I want an array
    is usually define as...

    int func(int a[]){}

    Then that way the paramter tells you you are wanting to pass an array. It's
    more explicit than...

    int func (int *a){}

    Your first ¶ C is pass by value... I may just be beginning to realize what
    that might entail. Like the freeaddrinfo function it wants a pointer. But
    you don't pass &value to it. you actually pass the pointer

    not freeaddrinfo(&value);

    Because the second example is saying you are passing what a pointer is
    pointing to. Does this make any sense?

    Bill Cunningham, Apr 15, 2014
  5. If the function asks for a pointer value, the corresponding argument
    must be a pointer value. If the function wants to access the value
    pointed to, it is the function's responsibility to dereference the
    pointer value. This is what happens in the vast majority of cases,
    including your current favorite memset.

    On the other hand, there are functions like free and realloc which ask
    for a pointer value and may never dereference it.

    For standard library functions, you shouldn't care. The function
    description tells you what the parameters are used for and your only
    concern should be to insure the argument you pass is suitable for that
    Reason it out. Does the compiler know what a pointer to void points
    to? Does memset? Do either care? Have you seen any documentation
    anywhere that implies the compiler can or does change a pointer type
    argument from an address to the data at that address?
    int i;
    p = &i;
    You should be able to explain why this invokes undefined behavior
    without the two statements I added.

    It should not be a surprise that you can achieve the same effect with
    memset(&i, 0, sizeof i);
    eliminating both the need for p and dependency in the code on the type
    of p or i.
    memset(&p, 0, sizeof(int*));

    You should be able to explain why I made the change and why your code
    could potentially invoke undefined behavior depending on certain
    system characteristics.
    What you coded - no. What I coded is legal but
    p = NULL;
    accomplishes the same thing much more simply. On the other hand, if p
    were a pointer to structure, then
    memset(p, 0, sizeof *p);
    could be potentially useful but note the lack of an ampersand.
    You would pass two pointer values, either by specify the names of
    pointer objects or by using the & operand on suitable objects. What
    other option do you think would work?
    Barry Schwarz, Apr 15, 2014
    Bill Cunningham, Apr 15, 2014
  7. Bill Cunningham

    David Brown Guest

    You are trying to learn about C pointers by guessing, randomly snipping
    sections of sample code, and trial-and-error, and then expecting other
    people to spoon-feed you fixes for the resulting mess. People in this
    group have been extraordinarily patient with you, but there is no
    possibility that you will ever learn C properly in this way.

    Buy a book on C for beginners, and study it /properly/. I don't know
    what your native language is (by the grammar in your posts, I'm guessing
    it is not English), but you might be lucky and get one that is easy
    enough for you to follow.

    When you have some of the basics, and have more questions than are
    answered in the book, many people here will be willing to help answer you.
    David Brown, Apr 15, 2014
  8. It was allowed before ANSI C. However, there is (as far as I know) no
    official definition of C with structure passing/returning/assigning
    (they all happened at the same time) that predates ANSI C. In those
    days, C was, by and large, what the Unix compiler accepted.

    The C described in K&R does not have these things, but the book
    explicitly flags them up as coming in a future version. Sadly, I
    remember the release and the joy it brought to all who compiled with it.

    Ben Bacarisse, Apr 15, 2014
  9. I do not know why someone would want to help someone who knew what they were
    doing. That makes no sense at all to me. Or why they would want or need help
    if they knew C?
    Bill Cunningham, Apr 16, 2014
  10. So in order to get help one must not need help then. I see.

    Rationality is not a popular trait in clc.
    Bill Cunningham, Apr 16, 2014
  11. Well, some of the discussion here is on the very fine points in the
    language, some might never come up in real programs.

    You will still get help here, but you are expected to do some of
    the help yourself. OK, since it is baseball season and I have an gameday window open, you wouldn't send your little-league
    kid out to batting practice with an MLB pitcher. For one, he wouldn't
    learn anything, and for another it could be very dangerous if
    he got hit by a pitch.

    On the other hand, even the best programmers make dumb mistakes
    once in a while.

    In my early assembler programs, I wasn't so sure what I was doing,
    but tried some things and learned how they worked. I mostly did it
    from IBM manuals, and not much asking, but there was some guessing.

    You should find some good books, including explanations on how
    and when to use pointers in C. If you can't understand the
    explanation, ask here.

    -- glen
    glen herrmannsfeldt, Apr 16, 2014
  12. I have read C book after C book. And learned alittle. I don't know if
    I'm just one of those people that learns hands on or what. It seems like
    that's the way I learn.
    Bill Cunningham, Apr 16, 2014

  13. OK. Your fundamental lack of understanding is that of data representation. Programming in C is designed for people who understand data representation and not for people who don't.

    What's a pointer? A pointer is a value that represents where something is stored.

    For most (it is intended and they are working on "all") data items in C, there is a way to obtain a pointer to it. This is often referred to as "dereferencing". For most pointers, there is a way to obtain the data (or first item of data) to which it points, if such a reference would refer to something in the representation (otherwise you will have some kind of a problem --ranging from "that's not what I meant" on up to "halt and catch fire".)

    So, let's look at memset: The first argument is a pointer to the beginning of the of the area of memory that you want to set to the particular value.
    This area may represent an array, a structure, a single data item ("scalar"), or a memory map of some device. The function doesn't know or really careall that much. If you tell it to blast '*'s to the memory map of a printerand your program has proper access to it, you will probably get a bunch of'*'s on the paper (or whatever the '*'s represent to the printer). The function memset just puts however many copies you say of whatever character you say in an area of memory that you say. It doesn't know what it is doing or whether it is doing what you want. It is very much like a screwdriver -- really good for tightening or removing screws, usable for drilling holes, can be made to pry things off of each other, really bad for jamming into your eye.

    So, the trick in getting memset to do what you want (like putting spaces into a character array where you are going to place a name of something, or putting '*'s into any eye catcher string), is to obtain a pointer to the beginning of the area, determining to what value you want to set everything, and obtaining a byte count for the thing that you want to set.

    Usually, you can obtain a pointer to the beginning of the representation ofsomething simply dereferencing it with the "&" operator and you can obtainthe size of the representation of the that thing by using either "sizeof" or, with some more complicated things, by using "offsetof". But, you need to supply sizeof with the representation of the entire thing that you want to set. In some cases, you will use offsetof (thing, last_variable_thing[number_of_last_variable_things]).
    Michael Angelo Ravera, Apr 18, 2014
  14. Bill Cunningham

    Kaz Kylheku Guest

    .... is a trolling project that is over a decade long, and counting.

    Here is post from January 2003:!original/comp.lang.c/XCNaLai1vmk/kccdq6h7B0kJ

    The news article posting personality calling itself "Bill Cunningham" does not
    retain a single fucking new shred of knowledge ever thrown at it.
    Kaz Kylheku, Apr 18, 2014
  15. Thanks Michael but I will have to admit; a lot of this is a little over
    my head right now. There's just something about these pointers. But I guess
    that's a common problem with persons who use C. I am a hobbyist. I have been
    trying to learn C on and off for a long time. I take a break for a while and
    I am finding learn as you go seems to slowly work. I appreciate any help
    though. It doesn't go unnoticed.

    Bill Cunningham, Apr 20, 2014
  16. Bill Cunningham

    Kaz Kylheku Guest

    Because then he would be dropping less of a clue that he's not a genuine
    Kaz Kylheku, Apr 20, 2014
  17. No. It doesn't ... lol.[/QUOTE]

    What I love is the implication in Bill's posts (the one above and others
    over the years) that there is some big do-ha to learning C. For crying out
    loud, it's a programming language; it's not like it's a spoken foreign
    language (which really does take years of study and effort to learn). In
    the real world, people are expected to pick up programming languages and
    start using them in a matter of days.

    BTW, welcome "Michael Angelo Ravera" to the small group of twisted nuts who
    post in both CLC and RGB. There's a lot of similarity between the two
    groups - both arenas (C and Bridge) offer a lot of opportunities for
    cliquishness and snarkiness. As far as I know, there are 3 in the club at
    present (me, Martin Ambuhl, and now you).

    P.S. I'm pretty sure that "Bill Cunningham" is one of the regs in
    disguise. The reasons for this should be obvious.

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
    ~ Epicurus
    Kenny McCormack, Apr 20, 2014
  18. I'm still trying to parse this last sentence. What does it mean?

    Help me out here, please...

    "I heard somebody say, 'Where's Nelson Mandela?' Well,
    Mandela's dead. Because Saddam killed all the Mandelas."

    George W. Bush, on the former South African president who
    is still very much alive, Sept. 20, 2007
    Kenny McCormack, Apr 21, 2014
  19. Kenny McCormack wrote:

    Try working with not well documented functions. Or ones that are new to
    you in some cases. A non standard C function getaddrinfo() gave me fits when
    I first started working with it. And a lot of it was not fully understanding
    not so much C syntax as what to do with the function.

    I do not consider myself a regular poster here on clc but a regular
    lurker. And I do post from time to time, though I've been here a while.

    Bill Cunningham, Apr 22, 2014
  20. Bill Cunningham

    Osmium Guest

    Of course the documentation is very often bad, I think we all agree on that.

    But you have two problems that precedes that problem. You refuse to follow
    a structured, reasonable approach to learning the fundamentals. You refuse
    to buy a book appropriate to your mind set and background. Your are like
    someone trying to learn Finnish and your method is to do so by writing the
    great Finnish novel. It Doesn't Work That Way!

    It is as though you had a combination lock you were trying to open. You
    keep trying to guess the combination. Meanwhile, there is this great book
    on lock picking setting on the table. Open the damn book and start reading.
    The author's name is King.

    You can even get an old edition for 97 cents plus postage "and stuff", less
    than $5 total.
    Search "k n king" amazon.

    PS. Yes, I know lock picking is kind of incompatible with a combination
    Osmium, Apr 22, 2014
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