What is the Pointer in Python? Does a Pointer Exist in Python?

Low-level programming languages like C or C++ frequently use pointers to directly handle memory. They enable effective memory management and low-level data manipulation.

The low-level complexities of memory administration are abstracted away in Python, a high-level language. Because of this, Python lacks express pointers in an equal manner that C or C++. As an alternative, Python makes use of an idea comparable to this one known as references, which enables indirect access to objects in memory by variables. Python gives builders a sturdy toolkit without requiring them to have a thorough appreciation of low-level memory administration through the use of references and other high-level abstractions.

Everything is an object in Python, and objects are saved in memory. In reality, when you outline a variable in Python, you are growing a reference to an object. This reference essentially serves as a pointer to the place in memory the place the object is kept.

Consider the following code, for instance.

a = 5
b = a
  • a = 5 − The Python statement "a = 5" declares a new variable and gives it the integer value of 5. Python produces a new integer object with the value 5 when this line is performed, and it then assigns a reference to that object to the variable a.

  • b = a − In a comparable way, the statement b = a declares a new variable b and offers it the value of a. Since an object (in this case, an integer object with value 5) is referenced through an object (a), then object (b) is likewise referenced by using an object (a). As a result, references to the identical 5-valued integer object are now shared by way of each a and b.

This is important because it means that changes made to a will also be reflected in b since they are both referencing the same object. For example −


a = 5
b = a
a = 6



As anticipated, yes? To understand the code sample above, follow these easy steps −

  • a = 5 − This line establishes a new variable named a and gives it the number 5.

  • b = a − A new variable b is created and assigned the value of a. Variable b holds the integer value of 5 which is the same as variable a.

  • a = 6 − This changes the integer value of the variable a to a new value of 6. A now has a reference to a different integer object than b at this time.

  • print(b) − This commands outputs b's value to the console. The output of this line is 5 since b still has a reference to the initial integer object with the value of 5.

Memory management is an essential issue of programming, and Python makes use of computerized garbage collection to manage it. The garbage collector of Python takes care of memory allocation and deallocation automatically whereas, in C or C++, developers take the responsibility for memory management.

The garbage collector of Python deletes objects from memory automatically when they are no longer required as references through variables.

This eliminates the want for guided memory management and frees builders to center their attention on writing code, rather than being traumatic about releasing memory. Ultimately, Python's automatic garbage series provides an extra simple and much less error-prone way of handling reminiscence management.


In summary, Python no longer has explicit pointers like C or C++, however, it does utilize references, which are comparable concepts. Python serves everything as an object and variables serve as pointers to those objects. Hence, whenever you assign a value to a variable, it means, you are pointing to something in memory. It is important to understand the reference system of Python as it is a key component of how the language manages memory.

By understanding references, you can better understand how modifications to objects are propagated via variables that reference them. This can assist you to write extra efficient and advantageous code and keep away from frequent pitfalls related to memory management. Therefore, gaining knowledge about references is an essential step in the direction of turning into a knowledgeable Python programmer.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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