7_R3X 7_R3X - 2 months ago 5x
C Question

Meaning of int in this expression

I could not understand what exactly does the innermost "int" mean in the following syntax.

int(*(*ptr (int))(void)

My understanding of this expression says that
is a function pointer takes nothing for its argument( from the void part of the expression) and returns an
(from the
in the beginning). But what does the

Edit : Apologies but the question in the question paper itself was misprinted. Here's the expression

int (*ptr (int))(void)


From the C standard, the signal() function has the rather complex signature:

void (*signal(int sig, void (*func)(int)))(int);

The signal() function takes two arguments, an int and a pointer to a function that takes an int argument and returns void; it returns a pointer to a function that takes an int argument and returns void — the same type as its second argument.

This is more complex than your code, but it can be reduced to your example, which is:

int (*ptr(int))(void);

Working step by step:

void (*signal(int sig, void (*func)(int)))(int);
void (*signal(int sig))(int);  // Remove second argument
void (*signal(int))(int);      // Remove argument name
int  (*signal(int))(int);      // Change return type
int  (*ptr(int))(int);         // Change name of function
int  (*ptr(int))(void);        // Remove argument of returned pointer to function

So, in context, it means that your statement is a declaration that ptr is a function that takes an int argument and returns a pointer to a function that takes no argument and returns an int value. The implementation (definition) of the function will give an argument name to the inner int.

Example code — with ptr renamed to function:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

static int counter(void) { static unsigned short val = 0; return ++val; }

static int (*function(int arg))(void)
    switch (arg)
    case 0:
        return rand;
        return counter;

int main(void)
    int (*func)(void);

    func = function(0);
    printf("F() = %5d\n", func());
    printf("F() = %5d\n", func());
    printf("F() = %5d\n", func());

    func = function(1);
    printf("F() = %5d\n", (*func)());
    printf("F() = %5d\n", (*func)());
    printf("F() = %5d\n", (*func)());

    return 0;

Example output:

F() = 16807
F() = 282475249
F() = 1622650073
F() =     1
F() =     2
F() =     3

I'm assuming I could add assert(sizeof(unsigned short) != sizeof(int));.