An array is a collection of variables that are stored in order in consecutive positions in the computer’s memory. Depending on the programming language, the array index starts at 0 (C language) or 1 (FORTRAN language); This item is stored in the position with the lowest address.
Arrays are a fundamental data structure in computer science and programming, allowing for the efficient storage and manipulation of collections of elements. In this context, an array is a container that holds a fixed number of variables, all of the same data type, arranged in consecutive positions within the computer’s memory.
The elements of an array are accessed using an index, which identifies the position of each element within the array. The index is typically an integer value that starts at either 0 or 1, depending on the programming language being used.
In languages such as C, C++, and Java, the index of an array starts at 0. This means that the element at the first position in the array is accessed using the index 0, while the second element is accessed using the index 1, and so on. This convention is known as zero-based indexing.
On the other hand, languages like FORTRAN and MATLAB use one-based indexing, where the first element in an array is accessed using the index 1, the second element is accessed using the index 2, and so forth.
The choice of 0-based or 1-based indexing has historical and practical reasons. Zero-based indexing is prevalent in many programming languages, as it allows for simpler and more efficient memory addressing. By starting the index at 0, the position of an element in the array can be computed directly using simple arithmetic operations. This behavior aligns with the low-level memory addressing conventions used in computer hardware.
However, some programming languages, particularly those influenced by scientific and mathematical computing, have adopted one-based indexing to align with mathematical conventions. This decision can make code readability easier for individuals who are accustomed to working with arrays and matrices in mathematics, where indices typically start at 1.
Regardless of whether an array uses zero-based or one-based indexing, the first element of the array is always stored in the position with the lowest address in memory. This ensures that the data in the array is stored consecutively in memory, allowing for efficient retrieval and manipulation operations.
In summary, arrays are a central concept in programming and computer science. They are collections of variables arranged in consecutive memory positions, accessed using an index. The choice between zero-based and one-based indexing depends on the programming language and design considerations, but both approaches guarantee that the first element of the array is stored in the position with the lowest memory address.