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### 16.1 Accessing Array Elements

If the variable `a` is an array, the nth element of `a` is `a[n]`. You can use that expression to access an element’s value or to assign to it:

```x = a;
a = 1;
```

Since the variable `a` is an lvalue, `a[n]` is also an lvalue.

The lowest valid index in an array is 0, not 1, and the highest valid index is one less than the number of elements.

The C language does not check whether array indices are in bounds, so if the code uses an out-of-range index, it will access memory outside the array.

Warning: Using only valid index values in C is the programmer’s responsibility.

Array indexing in C is not a primitive operation: it is defined in terms of pointer arithmetic and dereferencing. Now that we know what `a[i]` does, we can ask how `a[i]` does its job.

In C, `x[y]` is an abbreviation for `*(x+y)`. Thus, `a[i]` really means `*(a+i)`. See Pointers and Arrays.

When an expression with array type (such as `a`) appears as part of a larger C expression, it is converted automatically to a pointer to element zero of that array. For instance, `a` in an expression is equivalent to `&a`. Thus, `*(a+i)` is computed as `*(&a+i)`.

Now we can analyze how that expression gives us the desired element of the array. It makes a pointer to element 0 of `a`, advances it by the value of `i`, and dereferences that pointer.

Another equivalent way to write the expression is `(&a)[i]`.

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