## Returning Structures from C Functions: A Comprehensive Guide

Returning a structure from a C function is a common task, but it can be confusing for beginners. This article aims to demystify this process, providing a clear understanding of how it works and offering practical examples to illustrate its application.

**The Problem:**

Consider the following code snippet, designed to calculate the area and perimeter of a rectangle:

```
#include <stdio.h>
struct Rectangle {
int length;
int width;
};
struct Rectangle calculate_rectangle(int l, int w) {
struct Rectangle rect;
rect.length = l;
rect.width = w;
return rect;
}
int main() {
int length, width;
printf("Enter the length of the rectangle: ");
scanf("%d", &length);
printf("Enter the width of the rectangle: ");
scanf("%d", &width);
struct Rectangle result = calculate_rectangle(length, width);
printf("Area: %d\n", result.length * result.width);
printf("Perimeter: %d\n", 2 * (result.length + result.width));
return 0;
}
```

This code intends to calculate the area and perimeter of a rectangle based on user input, but it doesn't actually calculate these values. It only returns the initial values of length and width. The issue lies in how the structure is returned from the `calculate_rectangle`

function.

**The Solution:**

Instead of just returning the struct itself, we need to calculate the area and perimeter within the function and store these values in the structure before returning it. Here's the corrected code:

```
#include <stdio.h>
struct Rectangle {
int length;
int width;
int area;
int perimeter;
};
struct Rectangle calculate_rectangle(int l, int w) {
struct Rectangle rect;
rect.length = l;
rect.width = w;
rect.area = l * w;
rect.perimeter = 2 * (l + w);
return rect;
}
int main() {
int length, width;
printf("Enter the length of the rectangle: ");
scanf("%d", &length);
printf("Enter the width of the rectangle: ");
scanf("%d", &width);
struct Rectangle result = calculate_rectangle(length, width);
printf("Area: %d\n", result.area);
printf("Perimeter: %d\n", result.perimeter);
return 0;
}
```

**Explanation:**

**Structure Definition:**We define a structure`Rectangle`

with attributes`length`

,`width`

,`area`

, and`perimeter`

.**Function Implementation:**The`calculate_rectangle`

function now takes the length and width as input, calculates the area and perimeter, stores these values in the`rect`

structure, and finally returns the`rect`

structure.**Main Function:**In the`main`

function, we receive the user input for length and width, call the`calculate_rectangle`

function, and store the returned structure in the`result`

variable. Finally, we access the`area`

and`perimeter`

attributes of the`result`

structure to print the output.

**Key Points:**

- Returning a structure from a function doesn't create a copy of the structure. It essentially returns the memory address of the structure, allowing access to its members.
- Structures can be returned from functions just like any other data type.
- By returning a structure, we can efficiently bundle multiple related values and pass them back to the calling function.

**Further Resources:**

This comprehensive guide provides a solid foundation for understanding and effectively using structures in C. As you progress in your programming journey, remember that structures offer a powerful way to organize and manipulate data in your code, leading to cleaner, more readable, and efficient programs.