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warnickr at gmail dot com
10 years ago
I must say that it has been rather confusing following all of the explanations of PHP references, especially since I've worked a lot with C pointers.  As far as I can tell PHP references are the same as C pointers for all practical purposes.  I think a lot of the confusion comes from examples like the one shown below where people expect that a C pointer version of this would change what $bar references. 

<?php
function foo(&$var)
{
   
$var =& $GLOBALS["baz"];
}
foo($bar);
?>

This is not the case.  In fact, a C pointer version of this example (shown below) would behave exactly the same way (it would not modify what bar references) as the PHP reference version.

int baz = 5;
int* bar;
void foo(int* var)
{
    var = &baz;
}
foo(bar);

In this case, just as in the case of PHP references, the call foo(bar) doesn't change what bar references.  If you wanted to change what bar references, then you would need to work with a double pointer like so:

int baz = 5;
int* bar;
void foo(int** var)
{
    *var = &baz;
}
foo(&bar);

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