What Is a Node Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

A Node is a fundamental data structure in computer science that represents a single unit of data. It is commonly used in various algorithms and data structures such as linked lists, binary trees, graphs, and many more. Understanding the concept of a node is crucial to understanding how these data structures work.

What is a Node?

A node consists of two main components – data and references (or pointers) to other nodes. The data component holds the actual information or value associated with the node. This can be anything from a number or string to complex objects or even other nodes.

The references, on the other hand, point to other nodes within the same data structure. These references establish the relationship between different nodes and allow us to navigate through the structure efficiently.

Anatomy of a Node

A typical node can be visualized as follows:

  • Data: The actual value or information stored within the node.
  • Next: A reference to the next node in a linked list or any other structure where order matters.
  • Previous: A reference to the previous node in a doubly linked list (contains both next and previous references).
  • Children: References to child nodes in tree-like structures such as binary trees or graphs.

Example Usage – Linked List

To illustrate how nodes are utilized, let’s consider an example of a simple singly linked list. In this case, each node contains data and a reference to the next node in the list.

<!-- HTML code representing a node in a linked list -->
<div class="node">
  <span class="data">42</span>
  <span class="next">--></span>

In the above example, we have a node with data value of 42 and a next reference pointing to the next node in the list. Using HTML elements like div and span, we can represent the structure visually.


A node is a fundamental building block of various data structures. It holds data and references to establish relationships with other nodes. Understanding how nodes work is essential for grasping the inner workings of many algorithms and data structures.

By incorporating elements like bold text, underlined text, lists, and proper usage of subheaders, we can make our content visually engaging, organized, and easy to follow.

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