In computer science, a pointer is a programming language object, whose value refers to (or “points to”) another value stored elsewhere in the computer memory using its address. A pointer references a location in memory, and obtaining the value stored at that location is known as dereferencing the pointer.
As an analogy, a page number in a book’s index could be considered a pointer to the corresponding page; dereferencing such a pointer would be done by flipping to the page with the given page number.
The term “Pointer” can also be defined as
- A variable does not store a value but store the address of the memory space which contains the value.
- A variable that contains the address of a location in memory. The location is the starting point of an allocated object, such as an object or value type, or the element of an array.
- A value that designates the address (i.e., the location in memory), of some value.
- Variables that hold a memory location.
- A memory address.
In general, Pointer is a long thin piece of metal on a scale or dial that moves to indicate a figure or position.