Is Structure a Data Structure?


Heather Bennett

Is Structure a Data Structure?

When it comes to programming and computer science, data structures play a crucial role in organizing and managing data efficiently. But what about structures?

Are they considered a data structure? Let’s dive into this topic and explore the relationship between structures and data structures.

Understanding Structures

In programming, a structure is a composite data type that allows you to group related variables together. It enables you to create a custom data type by combining different primitive or user-defined types. Each variable within a structure is called a member or field.

A structure provides an organized way to store and access multiple values of different types under one name. For example, consider a structure called Person:

struct Person {
    char name[50];
    int age;
    float height;

In this example, the Person structure contains three members: name, age, and height. The name member is an array of characters that can store up to 50 characters, while the age member is an integer, and the height member is a floating-point number.

Data Structures in Programming

Data structures are specialized formats for organizing and storing data with the goal of efficient access and manipulation. They provide algorithms for performing various operations on the stored data efficiently.

Data structures like arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, graphs, etc., are widely used in programming to solve real-world problems effectively. These data structures offer different trade-offs between storage efficiency and operation efficiency based on the problem requirements.

The Relationship Between Structures and Data Structures

Structures and data structures are closely related, but they serve different purposes.

A structure is a way to organize related variables together into a single entity. It allows you to group data of different types under one name, making it easier to manage and manipulate. However, a structure alone does not provide any specialized algorithms or operations for efficient data manipulation.

On the other hand, data structures are built upon the concept of structures. They utilize structures as a foundation to organize and store data in specific formats that enable efficient operations. Data structures offer various algorithms to perform operations like insertion, deletion, searching, sorting, etc., with optimal time and space complexity.

Examples of Structures within Data Structures

Many data structures make use of structures within their implementation. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Linked List: Each node in a linked list can be implemented using a structure. The structure typically contains two members – data, which stores the actual value, and next, which points to the next node in the list.
  • Binary Tree: Each node in a binary tree can be implemented using a structure that contains members for storing the node’s value and pointers to its left and right child nodes.
  • Hash Table: A hash table often uses an array of structures called buckets or slots. Each structure represents a container for storing key-value pairs.


In summary, while both structures and data structures involve organizing data in programming, they serve different purposes. Structures provide an organized way to group related variables together into custom data types. On the other hand, data structures are specialized formats built upon the concept of structures, offering algorithms for efficient data manipulation.

Understanding the distinction between structures and data structures is essential for designing and implementing efficient solutions to various programming problems.

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