Heap is a memory region allotted to every program. Unlike stack, heap memory can be dynamically allocated. This means that the program can 'request' and 'release' memory from the heap segment whenever it requires. Also, this memory is global, i.e. it can be accessed and modified from anywhere within a program and is not localized to the function where it is allocated. This is accomplished using 'pointers' to reference dynamically allocated memory which in turn leads to a small degradation in performance as compared to using local variables (on the stack).