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The third course in the specialization Introduction to Programming in C introduces the programming constructs pointers, arrays, and recursion. Pointers provide control and flexibility when programming in C by giving you a way to refer to the location of other data. Arrays provide a way to bundle data by guaranteeing sequences of data are grouped together. Finally, recursive functions—functions that call themselves—provide an alternative to iteration that are very useful for implementing certain algorithms.
Pointers are one of the most important and powerful aspects of the C language. Pointers are critical to understanding arrays, which let you manipulate sequences of data. They also give a programmer control and flexibility when programming, enabling solutions that are clean and efficient. Some other languages use pointers implicitly—or pointer-like constructs—so understanding their use will make you a better programmer in any language.
Arrays are sequences of memory of the same type that are guaranteed to be one after another. This is an incredibly useful data format, enabling you to store many things together under one variable name. In this module, you will learn how to use arrays to solve more complex problems and lay the groundwork for more complex data types.
Uses of Pointers
Now that you have mastered the basics of pointers and arrays, it is time to see some important uses of them. In this module, you will learn about how to manipulate strings and multi-dimensional arrays. You will also learn about function pointers, which allow you to pass "which function to call" as the parameter of another function.
By now you are familiar with iteration, in which repetition is expressed in terms of loops. Another programming technique to accomplish similar ideas is "recursion" in which a more complex instance of a problem is expressed in terms of solutions to simpler instances of the problem. In this module, you will learn how to read and write recursive code, giving you another powerful option for how to approach programming problems.
Now that you have learned about pointers and arrays, you will build on the code you wrote in Course 2 to build a deck of cards and evaluate a poker hand. In the next course, you will complete the program to calculate poker odds with a Monte Carlo simulation.
Andrew D. Hilton, Anne Bracy and Genevieve M. Lipp