does the automatic local variable are stored in the stack in C?

okay i know that main() automatic local variables are stored in the stack and also any function automatic local variables too, but when i have tried the following code on gcc version 4.6.3 :

#include <stdio.h>

    int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {

        int var1;
        int var2;
        int var3;
        int var4;

the results are :


according to the results var4 on the top of the stack and var1 on the bottom of the stack and the stack pointer now pointing on the address below var1 address....but why var4 on the top of the stack and var1 on the bottom...its declared after var1 so i think logically that var1 should be on the top of the stack and any variable declared after var1 should be below it in in my example like this:

>>var1  at 0xbfca41ec
>>var2  at 0xbfca41e8
>>var3  at 0xbfca41e4
>>var4  at 0xbfca41e0
>>and stack pointer pointing here  


after reading the comment by @AusCBloke I’ve tried the following code :

#include <stdio.h>

 void fun(){
 int var1;
 int var2;
 printf("inside the function\n");


 int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {

int var1;
int var2;
int var3;
int var4;

printf("inside the main\n");
return 0;

and the results :

inside the main
inside the function

so the variables inside fun() stack frame are below the variables inside main() stack frame and that’s true according to the nature of the stack ,..but inside the same stack frame its not necessary to be ordered from top to the bottom.

thanks @AusCBloke..... your comment helped me a lot


There is no requirement for these variables to be allocated in the order in which they were declared. They can be moved around by the compiler, or even optimized out entirely. If you need the relative addresses to stay the same, use a struct.

Objects with automatic storage duration are typically stored on the stack, but the language standard doesn't require it. In fact, the standard (the link is to the latest pre-release C11 draft) doesn't even mention the word "stack".

The word "stack", unfortunately, is ambiguous.

In the most abstract sense, a stack is a data structure in which the most recently added items are removed first (last-in first-out, or LIFO). The requirements regarding the lifetime of objects with automatic storage duration (i.e., objects defined within a function with no static keyword) imply some kind of stack-like allocation.

The word "stack" is also commonly used to refer to a contiguous region of memory, typically controlled by a "stack pointer" pointing to the top-most element. The stack grows by moving the stack pointer away from the base, and shrinks by moving it toward the base. (It can grow in either direction, toward higher or lower memory addresses.) Most C compilers use this kind of contiguous stack to implement automatic objects -- but not all do. There have been C compilers for IBM mainframe systems which allocate storage for function calls from a heap-like structure, and the addresses for nested calls need not be uniformly in either increasing or decreasing order.

This is an unusual implementation, and there are very good reasons that this approach is not commonly used (a contiguous stack is simpler, more efficient, and is typically supported by the CPU). But the C standard is carefully written to avoid requiring a specific scheme, and C code that's carefully written to be portable will work correctly regardless of which method a compiler chooses. You don't need to know. All you really need to know about the address of var1 is that it's &var1. If you write if (&var1 < &var2) { ... }, then you're probably doing something wrong (that expression's behavior is undefined, BTW).

That's the standard C answer. I see that your question is tagged gcc. As far as I know, all versions of gcc use a contiguous stack. But even so, there's rarely any benefit in taking advantage of this.

On many (most) modern platform stack grows from higher addresses in memory to lower addresses. I..e. when you start your program, the stack pointer is immediately put to some address in memory, which is determined by the maximum stack size in your program. Once things get pushed into stack, the stack pointer actually moves down.

I could be wrong but stacks start in lower memory addresses and are then added to. So it is correct for var4 to be on top. It is a stack after all!

edit: the assembly code behind it has the stack pointer at the bottom of the memory stack and whenever data is added, the stackpointer is incremented so that the next variable falls ontop.

I'm 99.9999% sure that the answer is Yes. Also, the stack grows downwards on Intel architecture machines, not upwards. The lower area becomes the virtual "top" of the stack (it's upside-down, so to speak).

So technically, the variables are in the correct order in stack memory.

EDIT: This is probably still compiler-specific, though.

Need Your Help

Bash Array Accessing with File Globs

arrays bash

I am very new to bash scripting but am having trouble accessing an array. (or what I believe to be an array) I am using a file glob to get the contents of an array.

Display XML in Java

java xml string

I receive information from a web page as a string of XML, now I want to display that string as I would see it in a web page, i.e. properly formatted. I have tried to do this with JEditorPane, but t...