Chapter 4. Traveling About the Stack

In This Chapter

  • Moving about the stack

  • How local variables are stored

  • Viewing threads

  • Tracing through assembly code

  • Viewing memory

Debuggers can be powerful things. They can leap tall computer programs in a single bound and see through them to find all their flaws. The more you know about these little debuggers, the more you can put them to use. In this chapter, we show you how to move about the stack and to make use of advanced debugger features.

Stacking Your Data

A stack is a common thing in the computer world. We have stacks of bills, and stacks of paychecks, and stacks of data. The stacks of data are interesting because, unlike the bills and paychecks, they live inside the computer's memory. But the stack metaphor is appropriate. When the operating system runs a program, it gives that program a stack, which is simply a big chunk of memory. But the data is stored just like a stack of cards: With a stack of real cards, you can put a card on the top, then another, and do that six times over; then you can take a card off and take another card off. You can put cards on the top and take them off the top. And if you follow these rules, you can't insert them into the middle or bottom of the stack. You can only look at what's on the top. A stack data structure works the same way: You can store data in it by pushing the data onto the stack, and you can take data off by popping it off the stack. And yes, because the stack is really just a bunch of computer ...

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