What Does * (Asterisk) Mean in C++ Programming?

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An asterisk is used in C++ to declare a pointer. Pointers allow you to refer directly to values in memory, and allow you to modify elements that would otherwise only be copied.

You could change an argument to use a reference, but every time you wanted to use that address, you would need to add ampersands (&) everywhere. Instead, the string variable can be changed using a pointer.

Creating Pointers

Again, a pointer points to a specific value stored at a specific address in a computer's memory. You can think of it as a variable for another variable's address.

To declare a pointer, use an asterisk (*). Below where input is declared, type:
string* pointer; 

To initialize a pointer, use an ampersand (&), which is an address-of operator. Below where the pointer is declared, type:
pointer = &input; 

That sets your variable, called pointer, to the address of input. 

Here is a quick breakdown to remember the different pointers and operators:

Still stuck? Get started with an Online Private Lesson in C++, where your child can learn more about the wide world of coding and development with the help and expertise of a dedicated, experienced instructor. 

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Ryan has been in EdTech and with iD Tech for 13 years—building experience, expertise, and knowledge in all things coding, game development, college prep, STEM, and more. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn

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