created: 01/17/2003; corrections: 11/26/2003, 04/29/2004, 04/26/2007
Just before a program starts running, the loader copies machine code from the executable file into the text segment of memory. It also copies data from the executable file into the data segment of memory.
Source code declares a fixed amount of memory (in the .data section for assembly language). But often as a program runs it requests more memory for data. The operating system finds a block of available memory and allocates it to the program. This is dynamic memory allocation.
Dynamic memory allocation is used in assembly language and high level languages for building data structures. In object oriented languages it is used to get the memory used to construct objects.
(Review: ) How many addresses does MIPS main storage have?