Arrays in C++


Definition : An array is defined as a collection of items stored at contiguous memory locations under the same name.

Ex: int (a,b,c,d,e ) can be grouped in a single variable as int a[5].
Now five continuous memory location are assigned with the same name ‘a’.

Instead of creating separate variables to store data, it is an efficient organization to store data  in a single variable called array

Arrays in C++

Basic properties of Array

  • Array index always starts with zero and ends with n-1 (n is the size) 
    ex:int a[5] has the index range a[0],a[1],….a[4]
  • An array is homogeneous: It stores elements of the same type only.
    ex: int a[5], integer array stores only integer elements.

Ways to define an array

Array definition by specifying the size

int a[5]; 

As per C99 versions, we can also declare an array of user-specified size

int n = 5; 
int a[n];

Array definition by initializing elements

int a[] = { 10, 20, 30, 40,50 } ;

Here size corresponds to the number of elements initialized, hence size = 4.

Array definition by specifying size and initializing

int a[5] = { 10, 20, 30, 40 ,50};

Initializing and accessing 1D array


#include < iostream >
using namespace std;
int main()
   int a[5]={6,9,1,5,3};//direct declartion and initialisation
   cout<<"elements are:\n";
   for(int i=0;i<5;i++)// iterate all the elements
     cout<<"a["<<i<<"]="<<a[i]<<"\n";//access though index
return 0;


elements are:


  • Reduces program size
  • Reduces access time
  • Efficient data organization


  Array size is static, due to which there may  be chances of wastage and shortage of memory

Array elements are addressed sequentially

  • The address of each block will be sequentially located to access the memory blocks by using pointers.
  • Generally, normal user access the array data with subscripted index i.e. a[n] internally compiler will access by address and pointers.

From the below example it is clear that a[0] is stored at location 0x6ff20 ,as it is an integer array element takes 4 bytes i.e. a[1]  at address 0x6ff24 and a[2] at  address 0x6ff28 and so on



using namespace std;
int main()
  int a[5]={6,9,1,5,3};
  cout<<"elements are:\n";
  for(int i=0;i<5;i++)
return 0;


elements are:


#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
main ()
  int n;
  cout << "how many elements?:"; cin >> n;int a[n], count = 0, key;for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) { cin >> a[i];
cout << "enter an element to find its frequency:"; cin >> key;for (int i = 0; i < n; i++)
if (a[i] == key)
cout << "frequency of b "<< count;
return 0;


how many elements?:6
2 3 4 4 5 6
enter an element to find its frequency:4
frequency of 4 is 2
enter an element to find its frequency:3
frequency of 3 is 1
enter an element to find its frequency:9
frequency of 4 is 0

Additions Facts about Arrays

An array index cannot be negative or zero


Unused space in the array is always filled with zeros

int a[5]={1,2,3};//a[3],a[4] are filled with zeros

All array elements are Garbage values before initialization of values

int a[5];//a[0]...a[5] are garbage values

Declaring an array without size is invalid

int a[];/invalid

The below array declaration sets all elements in the array to 0

int a[10]={0};

2D Arrays

  • Two-dimensional arrays are represented using two indexes namely row and column
  • A 2D array is viewed as an array of arrays.
  • Size of multidimensional arrays

    • Total number of elements that can be stored in a multidimensional array can be calculated by multiplying the number of rows and columns.

    For example:

    • The array int a[3][3] can store total (3*3) = 9 elements.
    • Similarly array int a[2][3] can store total (2*3) = 6 elements.

Defining 2D array

data_type name[rows][columums];

ex: int a[3][3];

Initializing Two – Dimensional Arrays:

First way:

int a[3][3] = {0, 1 ,2 ,3 ,4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 };

The elements will be filled in the array in the order, first 3 elements from the left in the first row, next 3 elements in the second row and so on.

Second way:

int a[3][3] = {{0,1,2}, {3,4,5,}, {6,7,8}};
  • This type of initialization makes use of nested braces. Each set of inner braces represents one row.
  • In the above example, there are total of three rows so there are three sets of inner braces.
2D arrays in C++

Accessing 2D Arrays

Elements in two-dimensional arrays are commonly referred by a[i][j] where i is the row number and ‘j’ is the column number.

  • a[2][1] element is located at index 2nd row and 1st column
  • A two – dimensional array can be seen as a table with ‘m’  rows and ‘n’ columns where the row number ranges from 0 to (m-1)  
    example: array a[3][3] ranges from i.e a[0][0] to a[2][2]

C++ program to initialise and access a 2D array


using namespace std;
int main ()
  // an array with 5 rows and 2 columns.
  int a[5][2] = { {0,0}, {1,2}, {2,4}, {3,6},{4,8}}; 
  for ( int i = 0; i < 5; i++ )//iterate rows
   for ( int j = 0; j < 2; j++ ) //iterate columns
     cout << "a[" << i << "][" << j << "]: ";
     cout << a[i][j]<< endl;
return 0;



a[0][0]: 0
a[0][1]: 0
a[1][0]: 1
a[1][1]: 2
a[2][0]: 2
a[2][1]: 4
a[3][0]: 3
a[3][1]: 6
a[4][0]: 4
a[4][1]: 8

Advantage of Multidimensional arrays

  Access time is reduced as search confines only to that particular row.
  ex: to access a[3][2] search starts directly from row index 2 rather than starting from index 0 as in the case of the 1D array.