Introduction to C — A 5 day course

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This is an intensive introduction to ANSI C programming using the GNU C compiler. At the end of the course attendees should be reasonably confident in reading and writing C programs and have a good practical understanding of advanced topics such as the use of C pointers, the relationship between pointers and arrays, as well as dynamic memory allocation and memory management. In addition, they will be able to understand makefiles and version control using RCS and CVS.

Throughout, the course will emphasise a disciplined and structured approach to C programming. Debugging and code testing techniques will also be covered extensively, including the use of the GNU debugging tools.

The course is not based on any particular Integrated Development Environment (IDE), and adopts a more traditional approach where files are created using a suitable editor (such as EMACS) and programs are compiled either by issuing commands at the commandline, or by invoking make on an appropriate makefile.

Each section of the material covered by the tutor is followed by hands-on practical exercises for which worked examples of the solutions are typically provided.

The course also includes numerous mini-challenges and code examples for private study, and to build on the skills acquired during the course.



First steps

Data types, operators and expressions (the basics)

Program flow control


Pointers and arrays


An introduction to data structures and algorithms


Further topics

Makefiles, Libraries, RCS and CVS

Suitable For

Attendees are expected to have some programming experience - e.g. Basic, Fortran or Pascal.

The course is also suitable for recent engineering and computer science graduates who need to "cure" any bad (programming) habits they might have picked up at University.


Drive and determination are important pre-requisites - the course aims to produce competent working programmers, as is a good sense of humour (vital when working under pressure).

Good programmers think hard, but also have a strong obsessive streak .... a need to get a program fully debugged and working at all costs.