What Is a Pair Data Structure?


Heather Bennett

What Is a Pair Data Structure?

In programming, a pair data structure is a container that holds two values together. It is commonly used to represent a key-value pair or an ordered pair. The values can be of any data type, such as numbers, strings, or even other data structures.

Why Use a Pair Data Structure?

A pair data structure is useful in many scenarios where you need to associate two values together. Here are some common use cases:

  • Key-Value Mapping: Pairs are often used to create a mapping between keys and values. For example, in a dictionary, the word serves as the key and the definition serves as the value.
  • Coordinates: Pairs can represent coordinates on a grid, with the first value representing the x-coordinate and the second value representing the y-coordinate.
  • Ordered Pairs: In mathematics, pairs can be used to represent ordered pairs for mathematical operations.

Creating Pairs in Different Programming Languages

The syntax for creating pairs may vary depending on the programming language you are using. Let’s explore how to create pairs in some popular programming languages:


In Python, you can create a pair using parentheses:

(key, value)

For example:

(1, "apple")


In C++, you can use the std::pair class from the <utility> header:

std::pair<Key_Type, Value_Type> myPair;

You can then assign values to the pair using the make_pair function:

myPair = std::make_pair(key, value);


In Java, you can use the java.util.Map.Entry interface to represent a key-value pair:

Map.Entry<Key_Type, Value_Type> entry = new AbstractMap.SimpleEntry<>(key, value);

You can also use the java.AbstractMap.SimpleImmutableEntry class for an immutable pair:

Map.SimpleImmutableEntry<>(key, value);

Accessing Values in Pairs

To access the values in a pair, you need to use the appropriate syntax based on the programming language. Here are some examples:

In Python, you can access the values using indexing:


In C++, you can access the values using dot notation:


In Java, you can access the values using getter methods:


In Conclusion

A pair data structure is a versatile container that allows you to hold two values together. It is widely used for key-value mappings and representing ordered pairs. By understanding how to create and access pairs in different programming languages, you can leverage this data structure to solve various problems in your programs.

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