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What is Segmentation fault

One of the most common problems when making software is errors like “Segmentation fault“, also called SegFault. Here is what a SegFault is.

Virtual memory in a computer can be created in 2 ways: pages or segments. Paging means that the memory is divided in pages of equal size, containing words of memory in it. Segmentation means that every process has a segment of memory of needed size, with gaps of empty memory blocks between the segments.

The operating system knows the upper limit of every segment, and every segment begins at a virtual address. When a program accesses a memory block, it calls a virtual address that the Memory Management Unit (MMU) maps to a real address. If the operating system sees that the requested address doesn’t match any valid address in the segment, it will send a signal to the process terminating it. SegFaults are the direct result of a memory error. The program has a bad pointer, a memory leak or any kind of error that makes it access the wrong memory address.


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