A slice gives you a view into a larger collection:

fn main() {
    let mut a: [i32; 6] = [10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60];
    println!("a: {a:?}");

    let s: &[i32] = &a[2..4];

    println!("s: {s:?}");
  • Slices borrow data from the sliced type.
  • Question: What happens if you modify a[3] right before printing s?
This slide should take about 10 minutes.
  • We create a slice by borrowing a and specifying the starting and ending indexes in brackets.

  • If the slice starts at index 0, Rust’s range syntax allows us to drop the starting index, meaning that &a[0..a.len()] and &a[..a.len()] are identical.

  • The same is true for the last index, so &a[2..a.len()] and &a[2..] are identical.

  • To easily create a slice of the full array, we can therefore use &a[..].

  • s is a reference to a slice of i32s. Notice that the type of s (&[i32]) no longer mentions the array length. This allows us to perform computation on slices of different sizes.

  • Slices always borrow from another object. In this example, a has to remain ‘alive’ (in scope) for at least as long as our slice.

  • The question about modifying a[3] can spark an interesting discussion, but the answer is that for memory safety reasons you cannot do it through a at this point in the execution, but you can read the data from both a and s safely. It works before you created the slice, and again after the println, when the slice is no longer used.