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Iterating through an array whose size is unknown?

I need to send just an array to a function which then needs to go
through each element in the array. I tried using sizeof(array) /
sizeof(array[0]) but since the array is passed into the function,
sizeof(array) is really sizeof(pointer to first element in array) and
therefore doesn't solve my problem. If I can't calculate the size of
the array, can I go through the elements without knowing the size and
somehow test whether I'm off the end of the array?
Jul 22 '05 #1
9 8756
On 14 Jul 2004 21:30:03 -0700, ma***********@yahoo.com (matthurne)
wrote in comp.lang.c++:
I need to send just an array to a function which then needs to go
through each element in the array. I tried using sizeof(array) /
sizeof(array[0]) but since the array is passed into the function,
sizeof(array) is really sizeof(pointer to first element in array) and
therefore doesn't solve my problem. If I can't calculate the size of
the array, can I go through the elements without knowing the size and
somehow test whether I'm off the end of the array?


But you do know the size of the array, after all you created the
array.

There are two possibilities if you insist using an array instead of a
std::vector:

1. Pass the size of the array as an additional parameter to the
function.

2. If the data in the array permits, have a dummy sentinel value that
tells the called function that it has reached the end of the array.
That is how the C library string functions work, a '\0' marks the end
of the string.

--
Jack Klein
Home: http://JK-Technology.Com
FAQs for
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alt.comp.lang.learn.c-c++
http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~a...FAQ-acllc.html
Jul 22 '05 #2
On 14 Jul 2004 21:30:03 -0700, matthurne <ma***********@yahoo.com> wrote:
I need to send just an array to a function which then needs to go
through each element in the array. I tried using sizeof(array) /
sizeof(array[0]) but since the array is passed into the function,
sizeof(array) is really sizeof(pointer to first element in array) and
therefore doesn't solve my problem. If I can't calculate the size of
the array, can I go through the elements without knowing the size and
somehow test whether I'm off the end of the array?


No you cannot, you have two options

1) The poor mans option, pass the size of the array into the original
function, so you can pass it on to the later function.

2) The proper C++ option, use a vector instead of an array. Vectors carry
their size with them at all times. In others words vectors do what you are
hoping that arrays do. They also have lots of other useful features like
being able to grow dynamically. You haven't really learnt C++ programming
if you haven't learned about vectors. Read a decent C++ book.

john
Jul 22 '05 #3
"Jack Klein" <ja*******@spamcop.net> wrote in message
1. Pass the size of the array as an additional parameter to the
function.

2. If the data in the array permits, have a dummy sentinel value that
tells the called function that it has reached the end of the array.
That is how the C library string functions work, a '\0' marks the end
of the string.


Also argv[argc] is valid and points to NULL.

int main(int argc, char * * argv) {
char * * iter = argv;
while (*iter) ++iter;
assert(iter-argv == argc); // should be true
argv[argc]; // ok, returns NULL
argv[argc+1]; // memory access violation!
}

Same holds for the extension char * * env extension many compilers support.

int main(int argc, char * * argv, char * * env);

A combination of methods (1) and (2) is to have the first element in the
array denote the number of elements following. Thus one would have { 3, 7,
2, 4 } for an array of 3 elements. This first element in the array is like
a sentinel saying the number of elements in the array. But of course, this
approach may not always be feasible, but it is something to consider.
Jul 22 '05 #4
All of your suggestions were helpful, however they aren't a solution
to my problem. It seems there ISN'T a solution to my problem! See, I
was attempting to code a solution to an archived TopCoder problem
question. To answer the question I had to have a method with the
prototype:

int sum(string s[])

So I couldn't pass in the size as another parameter. In addition, the
problem gave examples of what would be passed in and it was simply
arrays of strings, without any kind of sentinel value/string to tell
the size of the array. Therefore, that idea is a no-no. I know if I
were using this in my own program I would take one of your
suggestions, but I'm assuming if I were actually answering this
problem during a TopCoder competition, I would have to use the above
prototype or I would get the problem wrong.

So here's my thought...maybe the problem was directed/meant to be
answered in Java. That's the first language I really learned anything
in and I know that Strings in Java have a size() function, so there
goes the problem.

By the way, I have used vectors, my friend. I would prefer them over
an array but like I've already said, I was given the above prototype
for the problem. I'm actually almost finished with Accelerated
C++...the chapter I just finished describes writing your OWN
vector-like class. Please don't assume that just because I asked a
specific question about arrays that means I don't know anything else
about C++.
Jul 22 '05 #5
> Please don't assume that just because I asked a
specific question about arrays that means I don't know anything else
about C++.


OK, point taken. I find it very easy to slip into a slightly sarcastic tone
when replying on c.l.c++, it's something I shouldn't do. In my defence I'd
say that most of the time there is helpful advice behind the sarcasm.

john
Jul 22 '05 #6
"John Harrison" <jo*************@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<2l************@uni-berlin.de>...
Please don't assume that just because I asked a
specific question about arrays that means I don't know anything else
about C++.


OK, point taken. I find it very easy to slip into a slightly sarcastic tone
when replying on c.l.c++, it's something I shouldn't do. In my defence I'd
say that most of the time there is helpful advice behind the sarcasm.

john


That's ok, I don't actually know TOO much about C++. Just more than
you assumed. ;-) No sweat though.

Oh, and I realized after my last post that I meant to say...perhaps
the problem was written for Java because ARRAYS in Java have the
length constant. What I actually wrote was that Strings in Java have
the size() method, which I believe they actually have the length()
method, but either way it wasn't the strings I was worried about
anyway (that and strings in C++ have a size() method too, so no
difference there). Doh. So yeah, this is just me correcting myself.
Jul 22 '05 #7
Can't you use a global variable to record the size, or at least a global
file variable?

Anil Mamede

matthurne wrote:
I need to send just an array to a function which then needs to go
through each element in the array. I tried using sizeof(array) /
sizeof(array[0]) but since the array is passed into the function,
sizeof(array) is really sizeof(pointer to first element in array) and
therefore doesn't solve my problem. If I can't calculate the size of
the array, can I go through the elements without knowing the size and
somehow test whether I'm off the end of the array?

Jul 22 '05 #8
Anil Mamede wrote:

Can't you use a global variable to record the size, or at least a global
file variable?
1: Please dont't top post.
2: The proposed solution is one, that one wants to avoid at all costs.

Anil Mamede

matthurne wrote:
I need to send just an array to a function which then needs to go
through each element in the array. I tried using sizeof(array) /
sizeof(array[0]) but since the array is passed into the function,
sizeof(array) is really sizeof(pointer to first element in array) and
therefore doesn't solve my problem. If I can't calculate the size of
the array, can I go through the elements without knowing the size and
somehow test whether I'm off the end of the array?

--
Karl Heinz Buchegger
kb******@gascad.at
Jul 22 '05 #9
"Anil Mamede" <am**@mega.ist.utl.pt> wrote in message news:40f7ba0b$0$1773
Can't you use a global variable to record the size, or at least a global
file variable?


What if there are 2 arrays?

Then probably a map<address of array, size of array> would work, though if
two threads insert or remove from the array at once, or one inserts or
removes and the other just reads, then we have to guard these insertions,
removals, and reads with mutex locks -- so that only one thread can do
anything with the global map at one time. Some implementations do in fact
do it this way, because when you say delete[] array they need to know the
number of elements in the array in order to call destructor on each one,
then release the memory of the array.

Other implementations might prepend the number of elements in the array in
the -1 slot. So for an array of length 3 arr[0] = 7, arr[1] = 1, arr[2] =
9, the compiler would insert an arr[-1]=3.

The global map approach seems to have the advantage that realloc is easier
as you can see how much the current array can grow before it collides with
the next one.
Jul 22 '05 #10

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