Static variable

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Static variables)
Jump to: navigation, search

In computer programming, a static variable is a variable that has been allocated statically so that its lifetime or "extent" extends across the entire run of the program. This is in contrast to the more ephemeral automatic variables (local variables are generally automatic), whose storage is allocated and deallocated on the call stack; and in contrast to objects whose storage is dynamically allocated in heap memory. Static memory allocation in general is the allocation of memory at compile time before the associated program is executed, unlike dynamic memory allocation or automatic memory allocation where memory is allocated as required at run time.[1]

The absolute address addressing mode can only be used with static variables, because those are the only kinds of variables whose location is known by the compiler at compile time. When the program (executable or library) is loaded into memory, static variables are stored in the data segment of the program's address space (if initialized), or the BSS segment (if uninitialized), and are stored in corresponding sections of object files prior to loading.

The static keyword is used in C and related languages both for static variables and other concepts.


In terms of scope and extent, static variables have extent the entire run of the program, but may have more limited scope. A basic distinction is between a static global variable, which has global scope and thus is in context throughout the program, and a static local variable, which has local scope. A static local variable is different from a local variable as a static local variable is initialized only once no matter how many times the function in which it resides is called and its value is retained and accessible through many calls to the function in which it is declared, e.g. to be used as a count variable. A static variable may also have module scope or some variant, such as internal linkage in C, which is a form of file scope or module scope.


An example of static local variable in C:

#include <stdio.h>

void func() {
	static int x = 0; 
	/* x is initialized only once across five calls of func() and
	  the variable will get incremented five 
	  times after these calls. The final value of x will be 5. */
	printf("%d\n", x); // outputs the value of x

int main() { //int argc, char *argv[] inside the main is optional in the particular program
	func(); // prints 1
	func(); // prints 2
	func(); // prints 3
	func(); // prints 4
	func(); // prints 5
	return 0;

Object-oriented programming[edit]

In object-oriented programming, there is also the concept of a static member variable, which is a "class variable" of a statically defined class, i.e., a member variable of a given class which is shared across all instances (objects), and is accessible as a member variable of these objects. A class variable of a dynamically defined class, in languages where classes can be defined at run time, is allocated when the class is defined and is not static.

Object constants known at compile-time, such as string literals, are usually allocated statically. In object-oriented programming, the virtual method tables of classes are usually allocated statically. A statically defined value can also be global in its scope ensuring the same immutable value is used throughout a run for consistency.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jack Rons. "What is static memory allocation and dynamic memory allocation?". MeritHub [An Institute of Career Development]. Retrieved 2011-06-16. The compiler allocates required memory space for a declared variable. By using the addressof operator, the reserved address is obtained and this address may be assigned to a pointer variable. Since most of the declared variables have static memory, this way of assigning pointer value to a pointer variable is known as static memory allocation. Memory is assigned during compilation time.