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Data types

• Primitive data types
• Structured data types
• Strings
• Enumerated types
• Arrays
• Records
• Pointers

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 1

Primitive data types


• Numeric types

• Booleans

• Characters

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 2

Data types: introduction

A data type is not just a set of objects.

We must consider all operations on
these objects. A complete definition of
a type must include a list of operations,
and their definitions.

Primitive data objects are close to

hardware, and are represented directly
(or almost directly) at the machine
level—usually word, byte, bit.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 3

Integer types

An integer type is a finite approximation

of the infinite set of integer numbers:
{0, 1, -1, 2, -2, ...}.

Various kinds of integers:

signed—unsigned, long—short—small.

Hardware implementations of integers:

one's complement, two's complement, ...

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 4

Floating-point types

All "real" numbers in computers are finite

approximations of the non-denumerable
set of real numbers.
Precision and range of values are defined
by the language or by the programmer.
Hardware implementations (used by
floating-point processors): exponent and

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 5

Boolean type

This type is not supported by all languages

(for example, it is not available in PL/, C,

The values are true and false. Operations

are as in classical two-valued propositional

Hardware implementation: a single bit or a

byte (this allows more efficient operations).

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 6

Character types

This is usually ASCII, but extended character

(Unicode, ISO) sets are often used.
Accented characters é à ü etc. should fit within
ASCII, though there is no single standard.
Chinese or Japanese are examples of writing
systems that require character sets of many
more than 256 elements.
Hardware implementation: a byte (ASCII,
EBCDIC), two bytes (Unicode) or several bytes.
CSI 3125, Data Types, page 7
Other primitive types

• word (for example, in Modula-2)

• byte, bit (for example, in PL/I)

• pointer (for example, in C)

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 8

Structured data types

• Strings
• Enumerated types
• Arrays
• Records

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 9


A string is a sequence of characters. It may be:

• a special data type (its objects can be
decomposed into characters)—Fortran, Basic;
• an array of characters—Pascal, Ada;
• a list of characters—Prolog;
• consecutively stored characters—C.
The syntax is the same: characters in quotes.
Pascal has one kind of quotes, Ada has two:
'A' is a character, "A" is a string.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 10

String operations

Typical operations on strings

string  string  string
string  int  int  string
string  characters
decompose into an array or list
characters  string
convert an array or list into a string

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 11

String operations (2)

string  integer

string  boolean
is it empty?

string  string  boolean

equality, ordering

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 12

More string operations…

Specialized string manipulation languages

(Snobol, Icon) include built-in pattern
matching, sometimes very complicated,
with extremely elaborate backtracking.

Another language that works very well

with strings is, of course, Perl.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 13

Fixed- and variable-length strings
The allowed length of strings is a design
fixed-length strings—Pascal, Ada, Fortran;
variable-length strings—C, Java, Perl.
A character may be treated as a string of
length 1, or as a separate data structure.
Many languages (Pascal, Ada, C, Prolog)
treat strings as special cases of arrays or
Operations on strings are the same as on arrays or
lists of other types. For example, every character in
a character array is available at once, whereas a list
of characters must be searched linearly.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 14

Enumerated types

Also called: user-defined ordinal types

[read Section 6.4]
We can declare a list of symbolic constants that are
to be treated literally, just like in Prolog or Scheme.
We also specify the implicit ordering of those newly
introduced symbolic constants. In Pascal:
type day =
(mo, tu, we, th, fr, sa, su);
Here, we have mo < tu < we < th < fr < sa < su.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 15

Operators for enumerated types

Pascal supplies the programmer with three generic

operations for every new enumerated type T:
succ: successor, for example, succ(tu) = we
pred: predecessor, for example, pred(su) = sa
(each is undefined at one end)
ord: (ordinal) position in the type, starting at 0,so for
example ord(th) = 3
For characters, Pascal also has chr, producing the
character at a given position, so for example
chr(65) returns ‘A’.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 16

Enumerated types in Ada

Ada makes these generic operations complete:

succ: successor,
pred: predecessor,
pos: position,
val: constant at position.

Ada also supplies type attributes, among them


day'FIRST = mo, day'LAST = su

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 17

Reuse of symbolic constants
A design issue: is the symbolic constant allowed in
more than one type? In Pascal, no. In Ada, yes:
type stoplight is
(red, amber, green);
type rainbow is
(violet, indigo, blue, green,
yellow, orange, red);
Qualified descriptions—similar to type casts—prevent
any confusion: we can write stoplight'(red) or
CSI 3125, Data Types, page 18
Implementation of enumerated types

Map the constants c1, ..., ck into

small integers 0, ..., k-1.

Enumerated types help increase clarity

and readability of programs by separating
concepts from their numeric codes.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 19

An array represents a mapping:
index_type  component_type

The index type must be a discrete type (integer,

character, enumeration etc). In some languages this
type is specified implicitly:
an array of size N is indexed 0…N-1 in C++ / Java /
Perl, but in Fortran it is 1…N. In Algol, Pascal, Ada
the lower and upper bound must be both given.

There are normally few restrictions on the component

type (in some languages we can even have arrays of
procedures or files).

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 20

Multidimensional arrays

Multidimensional arrays can be defined in two

ways (for simplicity, we show only dimension 2):
index_type1  index_type2  component_type
This corresponds to references such as A[I,J].
Algol, Pascal, Ada work like this.
index_type1 (index_type2  component_type)
This corresponds to references such as A[I][J].
Java works like this.
Perl sticks to one dimension

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 21

Operations on arrays (1)

select an element (get or change its value):


select a slice of an array:

(read the textbook, Section 6.5.7)

assign a complete array to a complete array:

A := B;

There is an implicit loop here.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 22

Operations on arrays (2)

Compute an expression with complete arrays

(this is possible in extendible or specialized
languages, for example in Ada):
V := W + U;

If V, W, U are arrays, this may denote array

addition. All three arrays must be compatible
(the same index and component type), and
addition is probably carried out element by

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 23

Subscript binding

static: fixed size, static allocation

this is done in older Fortran.
semistatic: fixed size, dynamic allocation
semidynamic: size determined at run time,
dynamic allocation
dynamic: size fluctuates during execution,
flexible allocation required
Algol 68, APL—both little used...

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 24

Array-type constants and initialization
Many languages allow initialization of arrays to be
specified together with declarations:
C int vector [] = {10,20,30};
Ada vector: array(0..2)
of integer := (10,20,30);
Array constants in Ada
temp is array( -40..40;
T: temp;
T := (15,12,18,22,22,30,22);
T := (mo=>15, we=>18, tu=>12,
sa=>30, others=>22);
T := (15,12,18, sa=>30, others=>22);

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 25

Implementing arrays (1)

The only issue is how to store arrays and access their

elements—operations on the component type decide
how the elements are manipulated.

An array is represented during execution by an array

descriptor. It tells us about:
the index type,
the component type,
the address of the array, that is, the data.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 26

Implementing arrays (2)

Specifically, we need:
the lower and upper bound (for subscript checking),
the base address of the array,
the size of an element.

We also need the subscript—it gives us the offset (from

the base) in the memory area allocated to the array.

A multi-dimensional array will be represented by a

descriptor with more lower-upper bound pairs.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 27

Implementing multidimensional arrays

11 12 13 14 15
21 22 23 24 25
31 32 33 34 35

Row major order (second subscript increases faster)

11 12 13 14 15 21 22 23 24 25 31 32 33 34 35

Column major order (first subscript increases faster)

11 21 31 12 22 32 13 23 33 14 24 34 15 25 35

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 28

Implementing multidimensional arrays (2)

Suppose that we have this array:

A: array [LOW1..HIGH1,
LOW2..HIGH2] of ELT;
where the size of each entity of type ELT is
This calculation is done for row-major
(calculations for column-major are quite
similar). We need the base—for example,
the address LOC of A[LOW1, LOW2].

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 29

Implementing multidimensional arrays (3)

We can calculate the address of A[I,J] in the

row-major order, given the base.
Let the length of each row in the array be:
The address of A[I,J] is:
(J - LOW2) * SIZE + LOC

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 30

Implementing multidimensional arrays (4)
Here is an example.
VEC: array [1..10, 5..24] of integer;
The length of each row in the array is:
ROWLENGTH = 24 - 5 + 1 = 20
Let the base address be 1000, and let the size of
an integer be 4.
The address of VEC[i,j] is:
(i - 1) * 20 * 4 + (j - 5) * 4 + 1000
For example, VEC[7,16] is located in 4 bytes at
1524 = (7 - 1) * 20 * 4 +
(16 - 5) * 4 + 1000

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 31

Languages without arrays

A final word on arrays: they are not supported

by standard Prolog and pure Scheme. An array
can be simulated by a list, which is the basic
data structure in Scheme and a very important
data structure in Prolog.
Assume that the index type is always 1..N.
Treat a list of N elements:
[x1, x2, ..., xN] (Prolog)
(x1 x2 ... xN) (Scheme)
as the (structured) value of an array

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 32


A record is a heterogeneous collection of fields

(components)—this differs from homogenous

Records are supported by a majority of

important languages, beginning with Cobol,
through Pascal, PL/I, Ada, C (where they are
called structures), Prolog (!) to C++.

There are no records in Java, but classes

replace them. There are no records in Perl.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 33

Ada records—syntax
type date is record
day: 1..31;
month: 1..12;
year: 1000..9999;
end record;

type person is record

name: record
fname: string(1..20);
lname: string(1..20);
end record;
born: date;
gender: (F, M);
end record;

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A field is distinguished by a name rather than an

index. Iteration on elements of an array is natural
and very useful, but iteration on fields of a record is
not possible (why?).

A field is indicated by a qualified name. In Ada:

X, Y: person; := 15;
X.born.month := 11;
X.born.year := 1964;
Y.born := (23, 9, 1949); := "Smithson";

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Operations on records (1)
Selection of a component is done by field name.
Construction of a record from components—either from
separate fields, or as a complete record in a structured
D := (month => 10, day => 15, year => 1994);
D := (day => 15, month => 10, year => 1994);
D := (15, 10, 1994);
D := (15, 10, year => 1994);
Note that an array can also be assigned such a constant.
Interpretation depends on context.
A: array(1..3)of integer;
A := (15, 10, 1994);

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Operations on records (2)

Assignment of complete records is allowed in

Ada, and is done field by field.

Records can be compared for equality or

inequality, regardless of their structure or type
of components. No generic standard ordering
of records exists, but specific ordering can be
defined by the programmer.

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More on records
Ada allows default values for fields:
type date is record
day: 1..31; month: 1..12;
year: 1000..9999 := 2002;
end record;
D: date; -- D.year is now 2002
There are almost no restrictions on field types.
Any combination of records and arrays (any
depth) is usually possible. A field could also be
a file or even a procedure!
CSI 3125, Data Types, page 38
The Prolog equivalent of records
Records—or rather terms—in Prolog can carry their type and
their components around:
date(day(15), month(10), year(1994))
name(fname("Jim"), lname("Berry")),
born(date(day(15), month(10), year(1994))),
If we can assure correct use, this can be simplified by dropping
one-argument "type" functors:
date(15, 10, 1994)
person(name("Jim", "Berry"),
born(date(15, 10, 1994)),
CSI 3125, Data Types, page 39
Back to pointers
[Note: We’re skipping 6.9.9]

A pointer variable has addresses as values (and a

special address nil or null for "no value"). They are used
primarily to build structures with unpredictable shapes
and sizes—lists, trees, graphs—from small fragments
allocated dynamically at run time.

A pointer to a procedure is possible, but normally we

have pointers to data (simple and composite). An
address, a value and usually a type of a data item
together make up a variable. We call it an anonymous
variable: no name is bound to it. Its value is accessed
by dereferencing the pointer.

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 40

Back to pointers (2)

Pointers in Pascal are quite well designed.

p  value(p) = 

 17 value(p^) = 17

Note that, as with normal named variables, in this:

p^ := 23;
we mean the address of p^ (the value of p).
In this:
m := p^;
we mean the value of p^.

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Pointer variable creation

A pointer variable is declared explicitly and has the

scope and lifetime as usual.
An anonymous variable has no scope (because it has
no name) and its lifetime is determined by the
programmer. It is created (in a special memory area
called heap) by the programmer, for example:
new(p); in Pascal
p = malloc(4); in C
and destroyed by the programmer:
dispose(p); in Pascal
free(p); in C

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 42

Pointer variable creation (2)

If an anonymous variable exists outside

the scope of the explicit pointer variable,
we have "garbage" (a lost object). If an
anonymous variable has been destroyed
inside the scope of the explicit pointer
variable, we have a dangling reference.
p^ := 23;
if p^ > 0 {???}

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 43

Pointer variable creation (2)

Producing garbage, an example in Pascal:

new(p); p^ := 23; new(p);
{the anonymous variable with the value 23
becomes inaccessible}
Garbage collection is the process of
reclaiming inaccessible storage. It is usually
complex and costly. It is essential in
languages whose implementation relies on
pointers: Lisp, Prolog.

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Pointers: types and operators

Pointers in PL/I are typeless. In Pascal, Ada,

C they are declared as pointers to types, so
that a dereferenced pointer (p^, *p) has a
fixed type.
Operations on pointers in C are quite rich:
char b, c;
c = '\007';
b = *((&c - 1) + 1);

CSI 3125, Data Types, page 45