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Indirection Operator: *

* cast-expression

The unary indirection operator (*) dereferences a pointer; that is, it converts a pointer value to an l-value. The operand of the indirection operator must be a pointer to a type. The result of the indirection expression is the type from which the pointer type is derived. The use of the * operator in this context is different from its meaning as a binary operator, which is multiplication.

If the operand points to a function, the result is a function designator. If it points to a storage location, the result is an l-value designating the storage location.

The indirection operator may be used cumulatively to dereference pointers to pointers. For example:

// expre_Indirection_Operator.cpp
// compile with: /EHsc
// Demonstrate indirection operator
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
int main() {
   int n = 5;
   int *pn = &n;
   int **ppn = &pn;

   cout  << "Value of n:\n"
         << "direct value: " << n << endl
         << "indirect value: " << *pn << endl
         << "doubly indirect value: " << **ppn << endl
         << "address of n: " << pn << endl
         << "address of n via indirection: " << *ppn << endl;
}

If the pointer value is invalid, the result is undefined. The following list includes some of the most common conditions that invalidate a pointer value.

  • The pointer is a null pointer.

  • The pointer specifies the address of a local item that is not visible at the time of the reference.

  • The pointer specifies an address that is inappropriately aligned for the type of the object pointed to.

  • The pointer specifies an address not used by the executing program.

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