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Dynamic Memory Allocation Concepts

Dynamic memory allocation is a technique in which programs determine as they are running where to store some information. You need dynamic allocation when the number of memory blocks you need, or how long you continue to need them, depends on the data you are working on.

For example, you may need a block to store a line read from an input file; since there is no limit to how long a line can be, you must allocate the storage dynamically and make it dynamically larger as you read more of the line.

Or, you may need a block for each record or each definition in the input data; since you can't know in advance how many there will be, you must allocate a new block for each record or definition as you read it.

When you use dynamic allocation, the allocation of a block of memory is an action that the program requests explicitly. You call a function or macro when you want to allocate space, and specify the size with an argument. If you want to free the space, you do so by calling another function or macro. You can do these things whenever you want, as often as you want.

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