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What is Array Decay in C++? How can it be prevented?
• Difficulty Level : Medium
• Last Updated : 22 May, 2021

What is Array Decay?
The loss of type and dimensions of an array is known as decay of an array.This generally occurs when we pass the array into function by value or pointer. What it does is, it sends first address to the array which is a pointer, hence the size of array is not the original one, but the one occupied by the pointer in the memory.

## CPP

 `// C++ code to demonstrate array decay``#include``using` `namespace` `std;` `// Driver function to show Array decay``// Passing array by value``void` `aDecay(``int` `*p)``{``    ``// Printing size of pointer``    ``cout << ``"Modified size of array is by "``            ``" passing by value: "``;``    ``cout << ``sizeof``(p) << endl;``}` `// Function to show that array decay happens``// even if we use pointer``void` `pDecay(``int` `(*p))``{``    ``// Printing size of array``    ``cout << ``"Modified size of array by "``            ``"passing by pointer: "``;``    ``cout << ``sizeof``(p) << endl;``}` `int` `main()``{``    ``int` `a = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,};` `    ``// Printing original size of array``    ``cout << ``"Actual size of array is: "``;``    ``cout << ``sizeof``(a) <

Output:

```Actual size of array is: 28
Modified size of array by passing by value: 8
Modified size of array by passing by pointer: 8```

In the above code, the actual array has 7 int elements and hence has 28 size. But by calling by value and pointer, array decays into pointer and prints the size of 1 pointer i.e. 8 (4 in 32 bit).
How to prevent Array Decay?
A typical solution to handle decay is to pass size of array also as a parameter and not use sizeof on array parameters (See this for details)
Another way to prevent array decay is to send the array into functions by reference. This prevents conversion of array into a pointer, hence prevents the decay.

## CPP

 `// C++ code to demonstrate prevention of``// decay of array``#include``using` `namespace` `std;` `// A function that prevents Array decay``// by passing array by reference``void` `fun(``int` `(&p))``{``    ``// Printing size of array``    ``cout << ``"Modified size of array by "``            ``"passing by reference: "``;``    ``cout << ``sizeof``(p) << endl;``}` `int` `main()``{``    ``int` `a = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,};` `    ``// Printing original size of array``    ``cout << ``"Actual size of array is: "``;``    ``cout << ``sizeof``(a) <

Output:

```Actual size of array is: 28
Modified size of array by passing by reference: 28```

In the above code, passing array by reference solves the problem of decay of array. Sizes in both cases is 28.
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