What Is Derived Data Structure?


Larry Thompson

Derived data structures are a powerful concept in computer science that allow us to efficiently store and manipulate data in various ways. These structures are derived or created from existing data structures, often providing additional functionality or improved performance.

Why Use Derived Data Structures?

Derived data structures are used for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Efficiency: By deriving a specific data structure from an existing one, we can optimize operations and reduce time complexity. This can be crucial when dealing with large datasets or performance-sensitive applications.
  • Functionality: Derived data structures can add new capabilities to the underlying data. For example, we can derive a graph structure from an adjacency matrix or list to perform efficient graph algorithms like traversals and shortest path calculations.

Examples of Derived Data Structures

Let’s explore some common examples of derived data structures:


A trie is a derived data structure used for efficient retrieval of keys in strings. It is derived from the basic tree structure but optimized for searching and prefix matching operations. Tries are commonly used in applications like autocomplete systems and spell checkers.

Suffix Tree

A suffix tree is another derived data structure that stores all the suffixes of a given string. It enables fast substring search operations, making it useful in applications like DNA sequence analysis and text indexing.

Bloom Filter

A bloom filter is a probabilistic derived data structure used to quickly test whether an element is a member of a set. It provides efficient membership queries while allowing false positives but no false negatives. Bloom filters find applications in caching systems, network routers, and spell checking algorithms.

Creating Derived Data Structures

Creating derived data structures involves transforming or extending existing data structures. This can be done through various techniques, including:

  • Inheritance: In object-oriented programming, we can derive a new class from an existing class and add additional attributes and methods to create a derived data structure.
  • Composition: By combining multiple existing data structures, we can create a new structure that provides enhanced functionality.
  • Transformation: Some derived data structures are created by transforming the original data structure. For example, converting an adjacency matrix to an adjacency list for better efficiency in graph algorithms.


Derived data structures are a powerful tool in computer science that allows us to optimize operations and add functionality to existing data. By leveraging these structures, we can improve the performance of our applications and solve complex problems more efficiently.

In this article, we explored what derived data structures are, their benefits, some common examples, and how to create them. Understanding these concepts will empower you to design efficient algorithms and build robust software systems.

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