What Is Data Structure and Types?


Heather Bennett

A data structure is a way of organizing and storing data in a computer so that it can be accessed and manipulated efficiently. It provides a means to manage large amounts of data effectively, ensuring easy storage, retrieval, and modification of information. There are several types of data structures available, each with its own advantages and use cases.

Types of Data Structures

1. Arrays

An array is a collection of elements stored in contiguous memory locations.

It allows for efficient random access to elements using indexes. Arrays are used when the size is known beforehand or when there is a need for constant time access to elements.

2. Linked Lists

A linked list is a collection of nodes where each node contains both the data and a reference (link) to the next node in the sequence. Linked lists are useful when the size is not known in advance or when frequent insertions and deletions are required, as they allow for dynamic memory allocation.

3. Stacks

A stack follows the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle, where elements are added or removed from one end only, called the top. It can be implemented using arrays or linked lists and is commonly used for function call management, expression evaluation, and backtracking problems.

4. Queues

A queue follows the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) principle, where elements are added at one end (rear) and removed from the other end (front).

Similar to stacks, queues can also be implemented using arrays or linked lists. They find applications in scheduling processes, handling requests, and more.

5. Trees

Trees are hierarchical structures consisting of nodes connected by edges without any cycles.

They have a root node and can have child nodes. Trees are commonly used for representing hierarchical data, searching, sorting, and organizing data in a hierarchical manner.

6. Graphs

A graph is a collection of nodes (vertices) connected by edges.

Unlike trees, graphs can have cycles and are used to represent relationships between objects or entities. Graphs find applications in network routing algorithms, social networks analysis, and more.

7. Hash Tables

A hash table uses a hash function to map keys to values, allowing for efficient insertion, deletion, and retrieval of data.

It provides constant time complexity for basic operations when the hash function is well-distributed. Hash tables are widely used in databases, caches, and dictionaries.


Data structures play a crucial role in computer science and programming as they enable efficient data management and manipulation. By understanding the different types of data structures available and their characteristics, you can choose the most appropriate one for your specific needs.

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