Is Structure a Derived Data Type?


Larry Thompson

Is Structure a Derived Data Type?

When programming, data types play a crucial role in defining the nature of the data we work with. In many programming languages, we have built-in data types such as integers, floating-point numbers, characters, and strings. However, there are situations where these basic data types may not be sufficient to represent complex real-world entities.

In such cases, derived data types come to the rescue. These data types allow us to create custom structures that can hold multiple pieces of information together. One popular example of a derived data type is the structure.

What is a Structure?

A structure is a composite data type that allows us to combine different variables with different data types into a single entity. It provides a way to organize related information and access them as a unit. Structures are extensively used in many programming languages, including C, C++, and Java.

The syntax for creating a structure varies slightly depending on the language. In C, for example, we define a structure using the struct keyword:

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

This code snippet defines a structure called “Person” that contains three variables: “name” (a character array), “age” (an integer), and “height” (a floating-point number).

Working with Structures

Once we have defined a structure, we can create variables of that type and access its individual members using the dot operator (.). Let’s see an example:

struct Person john;

strcpy(, "John Doe");
john.age = 25;
john.height = 1.75;

printf("Name: %s\n",;
printf("Age: %d\n", john.age);
printf("Height: %.2f\n", john.height);

The above code snippet declares a variable “john” of type “Person” and assigns values to its members. We can then access and output each member using the dot operator.

Advantages of Using Structures

Structures offer several advantages:

  • Grouping related information: Structures allow us to group together related pieces of information, making our code more organized and easier to understand.
  • Passing complex data: Structures enable us to pass complex data as a single argument to functions, simplifying the function’s signature and reducing the number of parameters.
  • Data organization: With structures, we can organize data in a hierarchical manner by nesting structures within other structures.


In conclusion, a structure is indeed a derived data type that allows us to create custom structures to represent complex entities. It provides a way to group related information together, making our code more organized and efficient. By understanding how structures work and their advantages, we can leverage them effectively in our programming projects.

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