An MPI call may need an argument that is an array of opaque objects, or an array of handles. The array-of-handles is a regular array with entries that are handles to objects of the same type in consecutive locations in the array. Whenever such an array is used, an additional len argument is required to indicate the number of valid entries (unless this number can be derived otherwise). The valid entries are at the beginning of the array; len indicates how many of them there are, and need not be the size of the entire array. The same approach is followed for other array arguments. In some cases NULL handles are considered valid entries. When a NULL argument is desired for an array of statuses, one uses MPI_STATUSES_IGNORE.