What Is an Undirected Graph in Data Structure?


Larry Thompson

An undirected graph is a fundamental concept in the field of data structure and graph theory. It is a data structure that consists of a set of vertices (also known as nodes) and a set of edges, where each edge connects two vertices.

Unlike directed graphs, undirected graphs do not have any specific direction associated with their edges. In other words, the edges in an undirected graph are bidirectional.

Vertices and Edges

In an undirected graph, each vertex represents an entity or an element, and each edge represents a relationship or a connection between two entities. The vertices can be represented by circles or dots, while the edges can be represented by lines connecting these circles or dots.


An important characteristic of an undirected graph is its adjacency. Two vertices in an undirected graph are said to be adjacent if there exists an edge connecting them. The adjacency relation is symmetric, which means that if vertex A is adjacent to vertex B, then vertex B is also adjacent to vertex A.


Let’s consider a simple example to understand the concept of an undirected graph better:

  • Vertices: A, B, C, D
  • Edges: (A-B), (B-C), (C-D), (D-A)

In this example, we have four vertices: A, B, C, and D. The edges (A-B), (B-C), (C-D), and (D-A) represent the connections between these vertices.


The concept of undirected graphs has various applications in computer science and real-world scenarios. Some common applications include:

  • Networks: Undirected graphs are used to model computer networks, social networks, transportation networks, and more.
  • Clustering: Graph clustering algorithms often utilize undirected graphs to identify groups or communities within a dataset.
  • Recommendation Systems: Undirected graphs can be used to build recommendation systems by analyzing the relationships between users and items.


Undirected graphs can be represented using various data structures such as adjacency matrix and adjacency list. The choice of representation depends on the specific requirements of the problem at hand.

Adjacency Matrix

In an adjacency matrix representation, a 2D matrix is used to represent the graph. Each cell in the matrix indicates whether an edge exists between two vertices. The matrix is symmetric because of the bidirectional nature of undirected graphs.

Adjacency List

An adjacency list representation uses an array of lists or linked lists to represent the graph. Each element in the array represents a vertex, and the associated list contains all the adjacent vertices.


An undirected graph is a versatile data structure that allows us to model relationships between entities in a bidirectional manner. Its simplicity and wide range of applications make it an essential concept in graph theory and data structure. By understanding the fundamental concepts of undirected graphs, you’ll be better equipped to solve problems related to network analysis, clustering, recommendation systems, and more.

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