16 thoughts on “Calling delete on variable allocated on the stack

  1. user

    No, it is not safe to call delete on a stack-allocated variable. You should only call delete on things created by new.

    • For each malloc or calloc, there should be exactly one free.
    • For each new there should be exactly one delete.
    • For each new[] there should be exactly one delete[].
    • For each stack allocation, there should be no explicit freeing or deletion. The destructor is called automatically, where applicable.

    In general, you cannot mix and match any of these, e.g. no free-ing or delete[]-ing a new object. Doing so results in undefined behavior.

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  2. user

    Keep in mind that when you allocate a block of memory using new (or malloc for that matter), the actual block of memory allocated will be larger than what you asked for.
    The memory block will also contain some bookkeeping information so that when you free the block, it can easily be put back into the free pool and possibly be coalesced with adjacent free blocks.

    When you try to free any memory that you didn’t receive from new, that bookkeeping information wont be there but the system will act like it is and the results are going to be unpredictable (usually bad).

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  3. user

    No,
    Memory allocated using new should be deleted using delete operator
    and that allocated using malloc should be deleted using free.
    And no need to deallocate the variable which are allocated on stack.

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  4. user

    here the memory is allocated using stack so no need to delete it exernally but if you have allcoted dynamically

    like
    int *a=new int()

    then you have to do delete a and not delete &a(a itself is a pointer), because the memory is allocated from free store.

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  5. user

    After playing a bit with g++ 4.4 in windows, I got very interesting results:

    1. calling delete on a stack variable doesn’t seem to do anything. No errors throw, but I can access the variable without problems after deletion.

    2. Having a class with a method with delete this successfully deletes the object if it is allocated in the heap, but not if it is allocated in the stack (if it is in the stack, nothing happens).

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  6. user

    Yes, it is undefined behavior: passing to delete anything that did not come from new is UB:

    C++ standard, section 3.7.3.2.3:
    The value of the first argument supplied to one of thea deallocation functions provided in the standard library may be a null pointer value; if so, and if the deallocation function is one supplied in the standard library, the call to the deallocation function has no effect. Otherwise, the value supplied to operator delete(void*) in the standard library shall be one of the values returned by a previous invocation of either operator new(std::size_t) or operator new(std::size_t, const std::nothrow_t&) in the standard library.

    The consequences of undefined behavior are, well, undefined. “Nothing happens” is as valid a consequence as anything else. However, it’s usually “nothing happens right away”: deallocating an invalid memory block may have severe consequences in subsequent calls to the allocator.

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  7. user

    You already answered the question yourself. delete must only be used for pointers optained through new. Doing anything else is plain and simple undefined behaviour.

    Therefore there is really no saying what happens, anything from the code working fine through crashing to erasing your harddrive is a valid outcome of doing this. So please never do this.

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