What Is Algorithm in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure used to solve a problem or perform a specific task. In the context of data structures, an algorithm refers to the set of rules or instructions that govern the operations performed on various data structures.

Understanding Algorithms in Data Structures

Data structures are containers used to organize and store data effectively. They provide efficient ways to access, manipulate, and manage data. However, to perform these operations on data structures, we need algorithms.

What makes an algorithm?

An algorithm must possess certain characteristics:

  • Input: An algorithm takes some input(s) which serves as the initial data for the process.
  • Output: It produces output(s), which can be the result of solving a problem or performing a task.
  • Definiteness: Each step in an algorithm must be precisely defined and unambiguous.
  • Finiteness: An algorithm should terminate after executing a finite number of steps.
  • Feasibility: The steps in an algorithm should be feasible and executable using available resources.

Purpose of Algorithms in Data Structures

The main purpose of algorithms in data structures is to provide efficient methods for performing various operations. These operations include:

  • Insertion: Adding new elements into a data structure.
  • Deletion: Removing existing elements from a data structure.
  • Traversal: Accessing each element in a data structure one by one.
  • Searching: Finding a specific element within a data structure.
  • Sorting: Arranging elements in a specific order.


Let’s take an example of a simple algorithm for searching an element in an array:

<!-- HTML code for displaying the algorithm -->
<p><b>Algorithm</b>: Search an element in an array</p>
<p><b>Input:</b> Array (arr), Element to search (x)</p>
<p><b>Output:</b> Index of the found element or -1 if not found</p>

<p><b>Step 1:</b> Start from the first element of the array.</p>
<p><b>Step 2:</b> Compare each element of the array with the given search element.</p>
<p>   - If the current element is equal to the search element, return its index and terminate.</p>
<p>   - If the current element is not equal to the search element, move to the next element.</p>
<p><b>Step 3:</b> Repeat step 2 until either the search element is found or all elements have been compared.</p>
<p> - If all elements have been compared and no match is found, return -1 to indicate that the search element is not present in the array.</p>

This algorithm demonstrates a simple approach to searching for an element in an array. By following these steps, we can efficiently find the desired element or determine its absence.


Algorithms play a crucial role in data structures as they enable efficient data manipulation, retrieval, and organization. Understanding algorithms helps us solve problems effectively and optimize the performance of our programs.

By implementing algorithms specifically designed for different data structures, we can harness the full potential of these structures and handle large amounts of data with ease.

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