I notice that modern C and C++ code seems to use
size_t instead of
unsigned int pretty much everywhere - from parameters for C string functions to the STL. I am curious as to the reason for this and the benefits it brings.
size_t type is the unsigned integer type that is the result of the
sizeof operator (and the
offsetof operator), so it is guaranteed to be big enough to contain the size of the biggest object your system can handle (e.g., a static array of 8Gb).
size_t type may be bigger than, equal to, or smaller than an
unsigned int, and your compiler might make assumptions about it for optimization.
You may find more precise information in the C99 standard, section 7.17, a draft of which is available on the Internet in pdf format, or in the C11 standard, section 7.19, also available as a pdf draft.
Classic C (the early dialect of C described by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie in The C Programming Language, Prentice-Hall, 1978) didn't provide
size_t. The C standards committee introduced
size_t to eliminate a portability problem