In an array, it is must to declare the size of the array. There are two possibilities for declaring the array size. The first case is, the records that are stored are less than the size of the array, second case we want to store more records than the size of the array.

In first case, there is wastage of memory. In second case, we can’t store more than the size of the array. Many languages permit a programmer to specify an array’s size at runtime. Such languages have the ability to calculate and assign, during execution, the memory space required by the variables in a program.
"The process of allocating memory at runtime is called dynamic memory allocation."
There are four library routines known as "memory management functions" that can be used for allocating and freeing memory during program execution.


allocates requested size of bytes and returns a pointer to the first byte of the allocated space.

allocates space for an array of elements, initializes them to zero and then returns a pointer to the memory.

frees previously allocated space.

modifies the size of previously allocated space.


The program instructions, global and static variables are stored in this region.


Local variables are stored in this area.


The memory space that is located between these two regions is available for dynamic allocation during execution of program. This free memory is called the heap. The size of heap keeps changing when the program is executed due to creation and death of variables that are local to functions and blocks. There fore it is possible to encounter memory ‘overflow’ during dynamic allocation process.
Note: When the above memory allocation functions fail to locate enough memory requested they return a null pointer.


A block of memory may be allocated using the function malloc. The malloc function reserves a block of memory of specified size and returns a pointer of void type.
Declaration of this function:
Void *malloc(size_t size);
Since this function return type is a void pointer, we can assign it to any type of pointer. It takes the following form:
ptr=(cast_type*)malloc(size_t size);
‘ptr’ is a pointer of type cast_type. The malloc returns a pointer (of cast type) to an area of memory with size specified.
int *p;
p=(int *)malloc(5*sizeof(int));
‘5’ locations of integer size is allocated and base address is stored in p.
char *ch;
ch=(char *)malloc(10);
It allocates 10 bytes of space for pointer ‘ch’ of type char and base address is stored in ch.

Note: the storage space allocated dynamically has no name and therefore its contents can be accessed only through a pointer.
We should check whether the allocation is successful before using the memory pointer.
Write a program to create a dynamic array and store value into array and display.

void main()
    int *a,n,i;
    printf("enter no. of elements ");
    a=(int *)malloc(n*sizeof(int t));
    printf("enter the elements \n");
    printf("given elements");
      printf("%d \t",*(a+i))

Enter no. of elements    5
Enter the elements    1   2   3   4    5
Given elements    1   2   3   4   5


Calloc is another memory allocation function used for requesting memory space at run time for storing derived data types such as arrays and structures. While malloc allocates a single block of storage space, calloc allocates multiple blocks of storage, each of same size and then sets all bytes to zero.

Declaration of this function:
Void * calloc(size_t n items, size_t size);

Since this function return type is a void pointer, we can assign it to any type of pointer. It takes the following form:

Ptr=(cast_type *)calloc(size_t n items, size_t size);

The above statement allocates contiguous space for n blocks, each of size specified. All the bytes are initialized to zero and a pointer to the first byte of the allocated region is returned. If there is not enough space, a NULL pointer is returned.

Write a c program to create dynamic character array and store the characters in the array and display.

void main()
    char *ch,n,i;
    printf("enter no. of characters");
    ch=(char *)calloc(n,sizeof(char ));
    printf("enter characters");
    printf("given characters or string is:");

Enter no. of characters:  5
Enter characters:  HELLO
Given characters or string is HELLO.

Releasing the used space:

When we no longer need the data we stored in a block of memory and we donot intend use that block for storing any other information, we may release that block o memory for future use, using the "free" function.


ptr--> it is a pointer to a memory block which has already been created by malloc or calloc.

Alternating the size of a block:

When previously allocated memory is not sufficient we need additional space for more elements. It is also possible that the memory allocated is much larger than necessary and we want to reduce it. In both the cases, we can change the memory size already allocated with the function realloc. This process is called reallocation of memory.

void *realloc(void *block, size_t size);

int *ptr;
Then reallocation of space may be done by statement
ptr=realloc(ptr, new size);

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