From a CS Diploma course question set:

Create a two dimensional array of ints, fill it with any random integers. Now find the minimum and maximum number, also find the index of those numbers.

I was not sure what they meant by "fill it with any random integers". Should I just use my imagination? Since I wasn't sure, I opted for using rand().

My Code:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <limits.h>

int main (void) {
    int array[10][10];

    srand((unsigned int)time(NULL));

    struct Nums {
        int num,
    } min, max;

    min.num = INT_MAX;
    max.num = 0;

    for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
        for (int j = 0; j < 10; j++) {
            array[i][j] = rand();
            if (array[i][j] > max.num) {
                max.num = array[i][j];
                max.i = i;
                max.j = j;
            if (array[i][j] < min.num) {
                min.num = array[i][j];
                min.i = i;
                min.j = j;
    printf("Max number: %d, row: %d, column: %d\n", max.num, max.i, max.j);
    printf("Min number: %d, row: %d, column: %d\n", min.num, min.i, min.j);
    return 0;

I did not go through the loop twice, i.e. I checked for the max and min numbers while filling up the array, is that the wrong approach considering the question?

Also is there any easier way to achieve the same result?

Thank you.


1 Answer 1


The formulated task leaves a lot of room for interpretation. You chose to simplify several points.

Fill [the array]...now find...

I take this as "create a function that finds...". This forces you to organize the program. Combining both (2D array, function) leads to a subtle problem - I ended up with a #define COLS 10, because that number (from your imagination also) has to be known to the function at compilation.

I also think setting max to 0 and min to INT_MAX is mixing up logic and parameters.

The other problem with a function is: how to return the bunch of results. I took your structs and put them into one.

The call at the center is:

struct minmax mm = minandmaxCOLS(array, nrows);

The function takes an array and number of rows. The caller can choose this value, but the number of cols must always be COLS.

If COLS is variable, then a 2D array is the wrong approach. Array of pointers works.

Instead of


I have

int nrows = 10;
int array[nrows][COLS];

illustrating that the caller (main) can choose the rows, but not the cols, if it wants to use a function.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <limits.h>

#define COLS 10

/* Result type */
struct minmax {
    int min, minrow, mincol;
    int max, maxrow, maxcol;

/* scan for min and max in a 2D array "a[][]" with dims rows and COLS  */  
struct minmax
minandmaxCOLS(int a[][COLS], int rows) {

    int r, c;
    struct minmax result;
    /* Initialize result-struct before comparing in loop */  
    result.min = result.max = a[0][0];
    result.minrow = result.mincol = 0;
    result.maxrow = result.maxcol = 0;

    for (r = 0; r < rows; r++)
        for (c = 0; c < COLS; c++)
            if (a[r][c] > result.max) {
                result.max = a[r][c];
                result.maxrow = r;
                result.maxcol = c;
                if (a[r][c] < result.min) {
                    result.min = a[r][c];
                    result.minrow = r;
                    result.mincol = c;

    return result;

int main (void) {
    int nrows = 10;
    int array[nrows][COLS];


    for (int i = 0; i < nrows; i++)
        for (int j = 0; j < COLS; j++) 
            array[i][j] = rand();

    /* A kind of test */ 
    //array[5][5] = -3;
    //array[6][7] = INT_MAX;
    struct minmax mm = minandmaxCOLS(array, nrows);

    printf("Max number: %d, row: %d, column: %d\n", mm.max, mm.maxrow, mm.maxcol);
    printf("Min number: %d, row: %d, column: %d\n", mm.min, mm.minrow, mm.mincol);

    return 0;

As a side effect you can now also search for min and max only in certain rows:

struct minmax mm = minandmaxCOLS(array+2, 1);

Output with "test" activated:

Min number: -3, row: 0, column: 5

"row" is now relative to the arg array+2. The "2" means "two rows of 10 (COLS) ints". Same as &array[2].


The function paramter list can be simplified by using a typedef. After defineing COLS as 10:

typedef int Arrcolsint_t [COLS];

This shows that an array of COLS integers is a basic unit. Now I can forget half (two thirds) of the details of "a":

minandmaxCOLS(Arrcolsint_t a[], int rows)

Same as:

minandmaxCOLS(Arrcolsint_t *a, ....

The advantage is you can use that type in several functions and only change the typedef itself. Without it is int a[][COLS] or int (*a)[COLS].

Row_t might be a better typedef name. Still there always is the compile time value 10 behind it all.


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