dangling pointer

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dangling pointer

(programming)
A reference that doesn't actually lead anywhere. In C and some other languages, a pointer that doesn't actually point at anything valid. Usually this happens because it formerly pointed to something that has moved or disappeared, e.g. a heap-allocated block which has been freed and reused.

Used as jargon in a generalisation of its technical meaning; for example, a local phone number for a person who has since moved is a dangling pointer.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

dangling reference

A link or pointer to something (instruction, table element, index item, etc.) that no longer contains the same content. If the reference is not a currently valid address, or if it is a valid address but there is no content in that location, it may cause the computer to crash. If the content has changed, it can also cause the system to crash, or, at the very least, produce erroneous output.
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