Variables in C

An entity that may vary during program execution is called a variable.

Variable names are names given to locations in memory. These locations can contain integer, real or character constants. In any language, the types of variables that it can support depend on the types of constants that it can handle. This is because a particular type of variable can hold only the same type of constant. For example, an integer variable can hold only an integer constant, a real variable can hold only a real constant and a character variable can hold only a character constant. The rules for constructing different types of constants are different. However, for constructing variable names of all types the same set of rules apply. These rules are given below.

Rules for Constructing Variable Names

(a) A variable name is any combination of 1 to 31 alphabets, digits or underscores. Some compilers allow variable names whose length could be up to 247 characters. Still, it would be safer to stick to the rule of 31 characters. Do not create unnecessarily long variable names as it adds to your typing effort.

(b) The first character in the variable name must be an alphabet or underscore.

(c) No commas or blanks are allowed within a variable name.

(d) No special symbol other than an underscore (as in gross_sal) can be used in a variable name.

Ex.: si_int

m_hra

pop_e_89

C compiler is able to distinguish between the variable names by making it compulsory for you to declare the type of any variable name that you wish to use in a program. This type declaration is done at the beginning of the program. Following are the examples of type declaration statements:

Ex.: int si, m_hra ;

float bassal ;

char code ;

Note: C allows variable declaration only at the beginning of a function (e.g. main ()).

Since, the maximum allowable length of a variable name is 31 characters; an enormous number of variable names can be constructed using the above-mentioned rules.

It is a good practice to use meaningful variable names. Thus, if we want to calculate simple interest, it is always advisable to construct meaningful variable names like prin,  roi,  noy to represent Principle, Rate of interest and Number of years rather than using the variables a, b, c.

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