What Is Array in Data Structure in C?


Scott Campbell

An array in data structure is a collection of elements of the same type, stored in contiguous memory locations. It is one of the most commonly used data structures in programming languages like C. Arrays provide a convenient way to store and access multiple values using a single variable.

Declaring an Array

To declare an array in C, you need to specify the data type of its elements and the size of the array. The syntax for declaring an array is:

data_type array_name[array_size];

For example, to declare an integer array named “numbers” with a size of 5, you would write:

int numbers[5];

Accessing Array Elements

Once you have declared an array, you can access its elements using their indices. Array indices start from 0 and go up to (array_size – 1). To access an element at a specific index, use the following syntax:


For example, to access the third element of the “numbers” array declared above, you would write:

int thirdNumber = numbers[2]; // Index 2 represents the third element

Initializing an Array

You can initialize an array at the time of declaration by providing a comma-separated list of values enclosed in curly braces ({}) within square brackets ([]). The number of values must match the size specified during declaration.

int numbers[5] = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}; // Initializing an array with values

Modifying Array Elements

You can modify the value of an array element by assigning a new value to it using the assignment operator (=). Use the element’s index to identify which element you want to modify.

numbers[0] = 10; // Modifying the first element of the array

Advantages of Using Arrays

  • Random Access: Arrays allow direct access to any element using its index, making it easy and efficient to retrieve and modify values.
  • Memory Efficiency: Arrays store elements in contiguous memory locations, reducing memory overhead compared to other data structures.
  • Simplicity: Arrays have a simple and straightforward syntax, making them easy to understand and use.

Limits of Arrays

While arrays offer many advantages, they also have certain limitations:

  • Fixed Size: The size of an array is fixed at the time of declaration and cannot be changed dynamically. This can lead to wasted memory or insufficient space if not carefully managed.
  • No Automatic Bounds Checking: C does not provide automatic bounds checking for arrays. It is the programmer’s responsibility to ensure that array indices are within valid bounds, otherwise, it can lead to unexpected behavior or crashes.

In conclusion,

An array in data structure allows you to store multiple elements of the same type in contiguous memory locations. It provides random access, efficient memory usage, and simplicity.

However, arrays have a fixed size and lack automatic bounds checking. Understanding arrays is essential for efficient programming in C.

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