What Is Bucket Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

The bucket data structure is a powerful tool in computer science that allows for efficient and organized storage of data. It is commonly used in various algorithms and data manipulation operations. In this article, we will explore what exactly a bucket data structure is and how it works.

What is a Bucket Data Structure?

A bucket data structure, also known as a hash table or hash map, is a data structure that uses an array to store elements. It provides constant-time average complexity for insertion, deletion, and lookup operations.

To understand how a bucket data structure works, imagine an array divided into multiple buckets or slots. Each bucket has the ability to store multiple elements. The number of buckets in the array can vary depending on the implementation.


One key concept behind the bucket data structure is hashing. Hashing involves converting an input value (such as a string or number) into a unique numerical value called a hash code. This hash code determines which bucket the element will be stored in.

The process of hashing usually involves applying a hash function to the input value. The hash function takes the input value and produces a fixed-size hash code as output. This ensures that different input values will result in different hash codes.


While hashing provides an efficient way to distribute elements evenly across buckets, collisions can occur when two different elements produce the same hash code. This is known as a collision.

To handle collisions, various techniques are employed in different implementations of the bucket data structure. One common technique is called chaining, where each bucket contains not just one element but also a linked list of elements with the same hash code.

  • Bold Text: A collision occurs when two different elements produce the same hash code.
  • Underlined Text: Chaining is a technique used to handle collisions in a bucket data structure.

Bucket Data Structure Operations

The bucket data structure supports several important operations:

  • Insertion: Inserting an element involves computing its hash code and then placing it in the corresponding bucket. If a collision occurs, the element is added to the linked list within that bucket.
  • Deletion: Deleting an element requires finding its hash code and locating it within the appropriate bucket or linked list.

    Once found, the element can be removed.

  • Lookup: Looking up an element involves computing its hash code and searching for it within the correct bucket or linked list. This operation allows for efficient retrieval of stored elements.

The average time complexity for these operations is constant, making the bucket data structure highly efficient when dealing with large amounts of data.


In summary, the bucket data structure, also known as a hash table or hash map, is a powerful tool for storing and retrieving data efficiently. It uses hashing to distribute elements across multiple buckets and handles collisions with techniques like chaining. With constant-time complexity for common operations, it is widely used in various algorithms and applications.

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