What Is Attribute in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

An attribute in data structure refers to a characteristic or property of an entity. It provides additional information about the entity and helps define its behavior, structure, or appearance. Attributes are essential for organizing and manipulating data efficiently.

Types of Attributes:
There are several types of attributes that can be used in data structures. Let’s take a look at some of the commonly used ones:

Primary Key Attribute: A primary key attribute uniquely identifies each record in a database table. It ensures that there are no duplicate records and facilitates efficient searching and indexing.

Foreign Key Attribute: A foreign key attribute establishes a relationship between two tables in a database. It refers to the primary key of another table and helps maintain data integrity by ensuring referential integrity.

Composite Attribute: A composite attribute is composed of multiple atomic attributes. For example, an address attribute may consist of street, city, state, and postal code sub-attributes.

Derived Attribute: A derived attribute is derived from other attributes or values within the data structure. It does not require additional storage but is calculated based on other attributes’ values.

Attributes in Data Structures:
Attributes play a crucial role in various data structures, including arrays, linked lists, trees, graphs, and more. They provide essential information about each element within these structures.

In arrays, attributes can represent properties like index position or value at a particular index. For example:

  • Index Attribute: Indicates the position of an element within an array.
  • Value Attribute: Represents the value stored at a specific index.

In linked lists, attributes can include pointers to the next or previous nodes along with data values:

  • Data Attribute: Stores the actual value associated with a node.
  • Next Attribute: Points to the next node in the linked list.
  • Previous Attribute: Points to the previous node in the linked list (for doubly linked lists).

In trees, attributes can define relationships between parent and child nodes:

  • Parent Attribute: Stores the reference to the parent node of a particular node.
  • Child Attribute(s): Contains references to the child nodes of a specific node.

Attributes are essential components of data structures. They provide valuable information about entities, facilitate efficient data organization, and enable effective manipulation and retrieval. Understanding and utilizing attributes correctly is crucial for building robust and efficient data structures in various programming scenarios.


In this article, we explored what attributes are in data structures. We discussed different types of attributes, such as primary key, foreign key, composite, and derived attributes.

Additionally, we looked at how attributes are used in various data structures like arrays, linked lists, and trees. By leveraging attributes effectively, we can create well-organized and efficient data structures that enhance our programming capabilities.

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