What Are Static and Dynamic Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

What Are Static and Dynamic Data Structures?

Data structures are an essential concept in computer science and programming. They allow us to organize and store data efficiently, making it easier to access and manipulate. Two common types of data structures are static and dynamic data structures.

Static Data Structures

A static data structure is one in which the size is fixed at compile-time. Once the size is allocated, it remains constant throughout the execution of the program. Arrays are a classic example of a static data structure.


An array is a collection of elements of the same type stored in contiguous memory locations. It provides random access to its elements using an index. The size of an array is determined at the time of declaration, and it cannot be changed during runtime.


int numbers[5]; // Static array with a fixed size of 5

Dynamic Data Structures

In contrast, dynamic data structures can grow or shrink in size during program execution based on the actual need for storing elements. They are more flexible as they allow for efficient memory utilization.

Linked Lists:

A linked list is a dynamic data structure that consists of nodes connected together via pointers. Each node contains both data and a reference to the next node in the list. Linked lists can be easily modified by adding or removing nodes without requiring contiguous memory allocation.


struct Node {
    int data;
    struct Node* next;

struct Node* head = NULL; // Empty linked list

Dynamic Arrays:

Dynamic arrays, also known as resizable arrays or vectors, are an extension of static arrays. They allow for the size of the array to be changed dynamically during runtime. Dynamic arrays allocate memory on the heap and can be resized as needed.


int* numbers = new int[5]; // Dynamic array with an initial size of 5
// Resize array to 10
int* resizedNumbers = new int[10];
std::copy(numbers, numbers + 5, resizedNumbers);
delete[] numbers;
numbers = resizedNumbers;

Choosing Between Static and Dynamic Data Structures

The choice between static and dynamic data structures depends on the requirements and constraints of your program. Static data structures are suitable when the size is known in advance and remains fixed. They are efficient in terms of memory usage and provide constant time access to elements.

On the other hand, dynamic data structures are useful when the size is uncertain or needs to change dynamically. They offer flexibility but may require additional memory overhead due to their dynamic nature.


  • Static data structures have a fixed size at compile-time, while dynamic data structures can grow or shrink during program execution.
  • Arrays are an example of a static data structure, whereas linked lists and dynamic arrays are examples of dynamic data structures.
  • The choice between static and dynamic data structures depends on the program’s requirements for size flexibility and memory efficiency.

In conclusion, understanding static and dynamic data structures is crucial for effective programming. By choosing the appropriate data structure based on your program’s needs, you can optimize memory usage and improve overall efficiency.

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