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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some details about Strings and Arrays of Strings in C

Multiple character constants can be dealt with in 2 ways in C. if enclosed in single quotes, these are treated as character constants and if enclosed in double quotes, these are treated as string literals. A string literal is a sequence of characters surrounded by double quotes. Each string literal is automatically added with a terminating character ‘\0’. Thus, the string “abc” will actually be represented as follows:

“ abc \0” in the memory and its size is not 3 but 4 characters ( inclusive of terminator character ).

Arrays refer to a named list of a finite number n of similar data structure elements. Each of the data elements can be referenced respectively by a set of consecutive numbers, usually 0, 1, 2, 3, ……., n. if the name of an array of 10 elements is ARR, then its elements will be referred as shown below:

ARR [ 0 ], ARR [ 1 ], ARR [ 2 ], ARR [3], …… ARR [9]

Arrays can be one dimensional, two dimensional or multi dimensional. The functions gets() and puts () are string functions. The gets() function accepts a string of characters entered at the keyboard and places them in the string variable mentioned with it. for example :

Char name[ 21 ];

The above code declares a string namely name which can store 20 valid characters ( width 21 specifies one extra character ‘\0’ with which a string is always terminated ). The function gets() reads a string of maximum 20 characters and stores it in a memory address pointed to by name. As soon as the carriage return is pressed, a null terminator ‘\0’ is automatically placed at the end of the string. The function puts () writes a string on the screen and advances the cursor to the newline. Any subsequent output will appear on the next line of the current output by puts ().

Arrays are a way to group a number of items into a larger unit. Arrays can have data items of simple types like int or float, or even of user defined types like structures and objects. An array can be of strings also. Strings are multi dimensional arrays comprised of elements, each of which is itself an array.

A string is nothing but an array of characters only. In actual C does not have a string data type rather it implements string as single dimension character arrays. Character arrays are terminated by a null character ‘\0’. So, for this reason the character arrays or strings are declared one character larger than the largest string they can hold.

Individual strings of the string array can be accessed easily using the index. The end of a string is determined by checking for null character. The size of the first index ( rows ) determines the number of strings and the size of the second index ( columns ) determines maximum length of each string. By just specifying the first index, an individual string can be accessed. You can declare and handle an array of strings just like a two dimensional array. See an example below:

Char name [10] [20] ;

Here the first dimension declares how many strings will be there in the array and the second dimension declares what will be the maximum length of a string. Unlike C++, C has some different functions for adding or concatenating strings, checking string length and to see the similarity of two strings. The functions are namely strlen, strcmp, strcat, strrev etc and are included in header file string.h. Strings are used for holding long inputs.

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gaurav said...
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