Definitions for dangling pointer

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Freebase

  1. Dangling pointer

    Dangling pointers and wild pointers in computer programming are pointers that do not point to a valid object of the appropriate type. These are special cases of memory safety violations. Dangling pointers arise when an object is deleted or deallocated, without modifying the value of the pointer, so that the pointer still points to the memory location of the deallocated memory. As the system may reallocate the previously freed memory to another process, if the original program then dereferences the dangling pointer, unpredictable behavior may result, as the memory may now contain completely different data. This is especially the case if the program writes data to memory pointed by a dangling pointer, a silent corruption of unrelated data may result, leading to subtle bugs that can be extremely difficult to find, or cause segmentation faults or general protection faults. If the overwritten data is bookkeeping data used by the system's memory allocator, the corruption can cause system instabilities. Wild pointers arise when a pointer is used prior to initialization to some known state, which is possible in some programming languages. They show the same erratic behaviour as dangling pointers, though they are less likely to stay undetected.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. dangling pointer

    [common] A reference that doesn't actually lead anywhere (in C and some other languages, a pointer that doesn't actually point at anything valid). Usually this happens because it formerly pointed to something that has moved or disappeared. Used as jargon in a generalization of its techspeak meaning; for example, a local phone number for a person who has since moved to the other coast is a dangling pointer.

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"dangling pointer." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/dangling pointer>.

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