Reference Type

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What Does Reference Type Mean?

A reference type is a code object that is not stored directly where it is created, but that acts as a kind of pointer to a value stored elsewhere.

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Techopedia Explains Reference Type

A reference type refers to an object in some external memory space. This is in contrast to value types, that are stored where they are created.

Experts also talk about reference types as being ‘dynamically allocated.’ In some languages, this involves different forms of organization, for example, where reference types are stored in a managed heap, rather than in a stack.

Other issues around the use of value types and reference types include the kinds of objects, such as classes and structs, that may fall into one category or the other.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.