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Ownership Rules

  • Each value in Rust has a variable that is called its Owner.
  • There can only be one owner at a time.
  • When the owner goes out of scope, the value will be dropped.

Type String can be mutated, but string literals can not. Reason behind: literals are stored in stack during compile-time, which makes it impossible to grow an string during runtime. Type String can be mutated because, it's stored in heap.

Rust has no Garbage Collector. It takes a different approach to release unused memory. Whenever a variable goes out of scope, the memory which was occupied by variable, would be returned.

  let s = String::from("hello"); // s is valid from this point forward

  // do stuff with s
// this scope is now over, and s is no
// longer valid

There is a special function called drop which Rust calls internally to release unused memory space.

Variables and their Values

let a = 10; // initial declaration
let b = a;  // value of `a` was copied to `b` as a
            // new variable

In Rust, primitive values are always stored in Stack. Heap is for Compound variables.

let s1 = String::from("hello");
let s2 = s1;    // pointer to `s1`'s object. `s1` destroyed

An object is made up of three parts: 1. Pointer to the memory location where object is stored 2. Length 3. Capacity

s1(stored in Stack) and hello(stored in heap)

On assigning s1 to a new variable, it will point to the same heap location. Because, when a s1 is assigned to s2, all three parts(ptr, len, capacity) were copied.

s2(stored in Stack):

Now, when s1 and s2 would go out of the scope, compiler would try to free the same memory twice, which is known as Double Free Error. This would lead to memory corruption, and ultimately security vulnerabilities.

Here, Rust's memory safety rules comes into play. Compiler makes previous variable(s1, in this case) invalid, copying everything to s2. Accessing s1 after declaring s2 would result into error.

error[E0382]: use of moved value: `s1`


The process of creating a new variable and invalidating previous one is known as Move. (Somewhat similar to a Shallow Copy in other languages). This method copies stack-data to a new location.


Deep Copy means copying a variable to a new location, completely. This copying incudes Stack data(ptr, length, capacity) along with heap data(Type String and similar)

In order to deep copy an object, one could use clone() method.

let s1 = String::from("Hello");
let s2 = s1.clone();

Ownership and Functions

Ownership in function works in a similar way as variables. Passing a value to function would eiter move or copy.

fn main() {
  let s = String::from("Hello, World"); // `s` came into scope

  make_move(s); // `s` out of scope as it's moved to `make_move` function

  println!("value of x is {}", x); // error[E0382]: borrow of moved value: `s`

  let x: u32 = 123; // `x` came into scope

  make_copy(x); // `x` moves to `make_copy`. but since `x` is of type u32, it can still be used

  println!("value of x is {}", x);

// changes ownership of parameter
fn make_move(some_str: String) {
  println!("value of some_str is {}", some_str);

// does not changes ownership of parameter
fn make_copy(some_int: u32) {
  println!("value of some_int is {}", some_int);

Returning value from a function would also transfar the value. (Example Below)

fn main() {
  let s1 = give_ownership();  // came into scope
  let s2 = String::from("Hello World"); // came into scope
  let s3 = take_and_give_back(s2); // came into scope. `s2` moved into `take_and_give_back` which in turn ruturned it to `s3`
// all variables goes out of scope.
// `s1` dropped
// nothing happens to `s2` as it was moved previously
// `s3` dropped

fn give_ownership() -> String {
  String::from("Hello, world")

fn take_and_give_back(str: String) -> String {

The ownership of a variable follows the same pattern every time: assigning a value to another variable moves it. When a variable that includes data on the heap goes out of scope, the value will be cleaned up by drop unless the data has been moved to be owned by another variable.