Passing pointers to functions in C


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C programming allows passing a pointer to a function. To do so, simply declare the function parameter as a pointer type.

Following is a simple example where we pass an unsigned long pointer to a function and change the value inside the function which reflects back in the calling function −

#include <stdio.h>
#include <time.h>
 
void getSeconds(unsigned long *par);

int main () {

   unsigned long sec;
   getSeconds( &sec );

   /* print the actual value */
   printf("Number of seconds: %ld\n", sec );

   return 0;
}

void getSeconds(unsigned long *par) {
   /* get the current number of seconds */
   *par = time( NULL );
   return;
}

When the above code is compiled and executed, it produces the following result −

Number of seconds :1294450468

The function, which can accept a pointer, can also accept an array as shown in the following example −

#include <stdio.h>
 
/* function declaration */
double getAverage(int *arr, int size);
 
int main () {

   /* an int array with 5 elements */
   int balance[5] = {1000, 2, 3, 17, 50};
   double avg;
 
   /* pass pointer to the array as an argument */
   avg = getAverage( balance, 5 ) ;
 
   /* output the returned value  */
   printf("Average value is: %f\n", avg );
   return 0;
}

double getAverage(int *arr, int size) {

   int  i, sum = 0;       
   double avg;          
 
   for (i = 0; i < size; ++i) {
      sum += arr[i];
   }
 
   avg = (double)sum / size;
   return avg;
}

When the above code is compiled together and executed, it produces the following result −

Average value is: 214.40000

c_pointers.htm

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