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What is Data Structure: Types, Basic Terminologies, and Classification5 min read

by TechABU
What Is Data Structure

What Is Data Structure?

Data structure is the collection of data elements that provide an effective means of organizing and storing data in a computer so that it may be used effectively. Data structures include arrays, Linked Lists, Stacks, Queues, etc. 

Data structures are employed extensively in every area of computer science, including operating systems, compiler design, artificial intelligence, graphics, and many others.

Many algorithms in computer science rely heavily on data structures because they give programmers the tools they need to manage data effectively. 

As the primary purpose of the software is to store and retrieve user data quickly, it is essential for improving the performance of software or programs.

Basic Terminologies Of Data Structure:

The foundation of any program or piece of software is a data structure. The most challenging thing for a programmer is selecting the right data structure for a program. Regarding data structures, the terminologies listed below are used.

  • Data: Data can be characterized as a simple value or a group of values. For instance, the student’s name and ID are examples of data about the student.
  • Group Items: Group items are data items that have subordinate data items. For example, a student’s name may include both their first and last names.
  • Record: If we talk about the student entity, then its name, address, course, and marks can be joined together to produce the record for the student. A record is defined as the collection of different data items.
  • File: A file is a collection of different records belonging to the same kind of entity. For instance, if a class has 60 members, the associated file will include 20 records, each of which provides information about a different employee.
  • Attribute and Entity: A particular object’s class is represented by an entity. It has a number of characteristics. Every attribute stands for a specific property of that entity.
  • Field: The attribute of an entity is represented by a single elementary unit of information called a field.

Why Do We Need Data Structure?

Data structures are important because they help to organize data in a way that is efficient for storage and retrieval. With data structures, it would be easier to store and retrieve data in a way that is both efficient and effective. Data structures help to make data easier to work with by providing a means of organizing it in a way that is efficient for both storage and retrieval.

The need for data structures arises from the requirement to store data in an organized way so it can be processed efficiently. The various operations that can be performed on data structures include insertion, deletion, searching, and sorting.

The choice of data structure depends on the following factors:

  • The type of data to be stored: This includes the nature of the data, such as whether it is numeric, alphanumeric, or non-numeric.
  • The operations to be performed: This includes the type of operations that are to be performed on the data, such as insertion, deletion, searching, and sorting.
  • The amount of data to be stored: This includes the number of records to be stored in the data structure.
  • The storage requirements: This includes the amount of memory required to store the data structure.
  • The time requirements: This includes the amount of time required to perform the operations on the data structure.

Classification Of Data Structure:

Data structures are classified into two types:

1. Linear data structures: A linear data structure is a data structure that is organized in a linear fashion, meaning it is arranged in a sequence. 

The most common linear data structures are the array, the linked list, the stack, the queue, and the tree.

  • Arrays: An array is a data structure that represents a collection of data items of the same type, called elements. The elements of an array are accessed by their position in the array, called an index. The index of the first element is 0, and the index of the last element is the size of the array minus 1.
  • Stack: A stack is a data structure that represents a sequence of data items called elements. The elements of a stack are accessed in a last-in, first-out (LIFO) order. The last element to be added to the stack is the first element to be removed.
  • Linked lists: A linked list is a data structure that represents a sequence of data items called nodes. Each node contains two fields: a data field and a link field. The data field contains the data item, and the link field contains a reference to the next node in the sequence. The first node in the sequence is called the head, and the last node is called the tail.
  • Queue: A queue is a data structure that represents a sequence of data items called elements. The elements of a queue are accessed in a first-in, first-out (FIFO) order. The first element to be added to the queue is the first element to be removed.

2. Non-Linear data structures: A non-linear data structure is a data structure that does not follow the traditional linear approach to data organization. Non-linear data structures are typically more complex and efficient than linear data structures.  

These include the following:

  • Trees: Trees are another type of data structure that is often used. Trees are hierarchical data structures that consist of nodes that are linked together by edges. The nodes in a tree are organized into a hierarchical structure, with the root node at the top and the leaves at the bottom.
  • Graphs: A graph is a nonlinear data structure that represents a relationship between data points as a set of interconnected nodes. Graphs are used to model social, scientific, and engineering systems, as well as many other real-world phenomena.
  • Hash tables: A hash table is a data structure that stores data in an associative array format, meaning that the data is stored in an array in which each key corresponds to a specific value. Hash tables are used to store data in a variety of applications, including databases, caches, and hash-based data structures.

Operations On Data Structure:

There are many operations that can be performed on data structures. The most common operations are insertion, deletion, searching, sorting, merging, and traversal.

  • Insertion: Insertion is the process of adding an element to a data structure. This can be done in many ways, such as adding an element to the beginning or an element to the end of a list.
  • Deletion: Deletion is the process of removing an element from a data structure. This can be done in many ways, such as removing an element from the beginning of a list or removing an element from the end of a list.
  • Searching: Searching is the process of finding an element in a data structure. This can be done in many ways, such as searching for an element in a list or searching for an element in a tree.
  • Sorting: Sorting is the process of organizing the elements in a data structure. This can be done in many ways, such as sorting a list of elements or sorting a tree of elements.
  • Merging: Merging is the process of combining two data structures. This can be done in many ways, such as merging two lists or two trees.
  • Traversal: Traversal is the process of visiting all the elements in a data structure. This can be done in many ways, such as traversing a list from beginning to end or traversing a tree in pre-order, in-order, or post-order.

Advantages Of Data Structure:

There are many advantages of using data structures, including:

1. Improved efficiency: Data structures can help improve the efficiency of your algorithms by allowing you to store data in an organized way that is easy to access and manipulate.

2. Increased flexibility: Data structures can give you more flexibility in how you represent your data, which can lead to more efficient algorithms.

3. easier to code: Data structures can make your code simpler and easier to write and understand.

4. More robust: Data structures can help make your code more robust and less likely to contain errors.

Conclusion:

A data structure in computer science is a framework for organizing, managing, and storing data that makes it easy to access and modify that data. In more precise terms, a data structure is a grouping of data values, the connections between them, and the functions or operations that can be performed on the data.

The notion of a data structure is often used in the context of algorithms, where a data structure is a particular way of organizing the data that is accessed by an algorithm. Data structures are also used in the implementation of other data structures. For example, a tree data structure may be implemented as an array.

1 comment

Awrang Zaib November 17, 2022 - 3:31 am

MASHA ALLAH

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