What Is Directed Graph in Data Structure With Example?


Scott Campbell

A directed graph, also known as a digraph, is a fundamental data structure used in computer science and mathematics. It consists of a set of vertices or nodes connected by edges, where each edge has a specific direction. In this article, we will explore what a directed graph is and provide an example to better understand its concept.

What is a Directed Graph?

A directed graph is a collection of nodes connected by directed edges. Unlike an undirected graph, where the edges have no specific direction, each edge in a directed graph has an associated direction from one node to another. This directionality allows for modeling various real-world scenarios such as relationships, dependencies, and network flows.

Nodes and Edges

In a directed graph, nodes are represented by circles or rectangles, while the edges are represented by arrows indicating the direction of the connection. Each edge connects two nodes: one called the “source” node and the other called the “destination” node.

  • Source Node: The node from which an edge originates.
  • Destination Node: The node towards which an edge points.

Directed graphs can have multiple edges between two nodes to represent different relationships or dependencies.

Directed Graph Example

To better understand how directed graphs work, let’s consider an example representing a social media network. Imagine we have four users: Alice, Bob, Charlie, and Dave. We can represent their connections using a directed graph:

↖︎ ↘
Bob → Charlie

In this example:

  • Alice follows Bob.
  • Alice also follows Charlie.
  • Charlie follows Dave.

Here, Alice is the source node, and Bob and Charlie are the destination nodes. Similarly, Charlie is the source node, and Dave is the destination node.

The directed edges in this graph represent the relationships between users. For example, Alice follows Bob, and Bob follows Charlie. However, there isn’t a direct connection from Alice to Charlie.

Applications of Directed Graphs

Directed graphs find applications in various fields of computer science and beyond. Some common applications include:

  • Dependency Management: Directed graphs can be used to model dependencies between tasks or modules in software development or project management.
  • Routing Algorithms: Directed graphs are used in network routing algorithms to find the shortest or optimal paths between nodes.
  • Social Networks: Social media networks can be represented as directed graphs to model user connections and relationships.
  • Process Modeling: Directed graphs can represent complex processes with steps that depend on each other.


In this article, we explored the concept of a directed graph – a data structure consisting of nodes connected by directed edges. We discussed how nodes and edges are represented in a directed graph and provided an example using a social media network scenario. Additionally, we highlighted some common applications of directed graphs in various fields.

Directed graphs serve as powerful tools for modeling relationships and dependencies between entities. Understanding their concept and properties is crucial for solving problems related to networks, routing, dependencies, and more.

Now that you have a clear understanding of directed graphs, you can explore further implementations and algorithms based on this data structure!

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