1. <programming> An address, from the point of view of a programming
language. A pointer may be typed, with its type indicating the type of data to
which it points.
The terms "pointer" and "reference" are generally interchangable although
particular programming languages often differentiate these two in subtle ways.
For example, Perl always calls them references, never pointers. Conversely, in
C, "pointer" is used, although "a reference" is often used to denote the concept
that a pointer implements.
Anthony Hoare once said:
Pointers are like jumps, leading wildly from one part of the data structure to
another. Their introduction into high-level languages has been a step backward
from which we may never recover.
[C.A.R.Hoare "Hints on Programming Language Design", 1973, Prentice-Hall
collection of essays and papers by Tony Hoare].
2. <operating system> (Or "mouse pointer") An icon, usually a small
arrow, that moves on the screen in response to movement of a pointing device,
typically a mouse. The pointer shows the user which object on the screen will be
selected etc. when a mouse button is clicked.
point-and-drool interface « point-and-grunt
interface « pointed domain « pointer »
pointer swizzling » pointing device » pointing stick