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What Is an Integer Array?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2014
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An integer array is a set of integers or "whole numbers" used for various computational purposes. An integer is a number that does not include a fraction. Integers include both positive and negative whole numbers, such as zero, one, and negative one. An integer array is just a set of these numbers defined in mathematics or computer programming.

Arrays of integers are commonly used in mathematics. The array might be described inside of a set of parentheses for use in some calculation or equation. The array can be as large or as small as necessary.

The array is one of the most frequently used mathematical constructs in computer programming. Many computer languages include an array for various kinds of functions where programmers find it helpful to have a set of variables on hand. The integer array is one of these data array types. Another kind of common array is the string array, where the included set of variables is composed of words rather than integers.

Programmers can do various things with an integer array in computer languages like Java, C+, and MS Visual Basic. A programmer can change one element of an array by referring to it specifically in code. Using a "for" loop, programmers can create a function that searches each element of the array individually and in sequence.

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An integer array will hold a series of whole numbers for any purpose within a specific program or code module. Each computer programming language has its conventions for efficient expression of an integer array or other data array. In MS Visual Basic, for example, an array often has a text name, such as FirstArray, with parentheses holding a reference to a specific element of that array. In this case, the first integer in the array would be called by something that looks like this: FirstArray(1).

When programmers have constructed an integer array, by a process often called dimensioning or "dimming", he or she can also reference any element of that array through using another variable, where FirstArray(x) would refer to the (x)th element of that array. By this method, programmers can create functions that automatically update and change each element of the array according to any given need for change. These actions can be part of many different kinds of software coding for doing in-depth computation.

Programmers use integer arrays and similar constructions for software that operates in nearly any field. From manufacturing to hospitalities, all kinds of industries use software and analysis tools to streamline a business operation. In addition, this kind of programming provides functionality for all of the other technical analysis that is so important in the scientific world. Simple tools like integer arrays have greatly expanded what a computer is able to do in helping humans to manipulate large amounts of data.

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