What Is Enum in Data Structure?


Heather Bennett

In data structures, an enum (short for enumeration) is a user-defined data type that consists of a set of named values. These named values are usually referred to as enumerators or enumeration constants. Each enumerator represents a distinct value within the enum.

Creating an Enum

To create an enum in most programming languages, you use the keyword enum, followed by the name of the enum and a list of its possible values enclosed in curly braces. Let’s take a look at an example:

enum Days {

In this example, we have created an enum called Days with seven possible values representing the days of the week.

Working with Enums

Enums are often used to represent a fixed set of values or options within a program. They provide a way to define meaningful names for these values, making code more readable and easier to understand.

You can access individual members of an enum using dot notation. For example:

Days today = Days.THURSDAY;
System.out.println("Today is " + today);

This would output:


Enum with Associated Values

In some programming languages like Swift, enums can also have associated values. This means that each enumerator can store additional information or data.

enum Result {
    case success(String)
    case failure(String)

let result = Result.success("Data loaded successfully")

In this example, the enum Result has two possible values: success and failure. The success case stores a String indicating a successful result, while the failure case stores a String representing an error message.

Benefits of Using Enums

Using enums in your code offers several benefits:

  • Readability: Enums allow you to use descriptive names for values, improving code readability and understanding.
  • Type Safety: Enums provide type safety by restricting the possible values to those defined within the enum.
  • Maintainability: If you need to add or remove values in the future, enums make it easier to make changes without impacting other parts of your codebase.
  • Error Prevention: Since enums limit the possible values, they can help prevent errors by ensuring that only valid options are used.

In conclusion, enums are a powerful tool in data structures that allow you to define a set of named values. They improve code readability, provide type safety, and make your code more maintainable. Consider using enums whenever you have a fixed set of options or values in your program.

I hope this article has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of what enums are and how they can be used effectively in data structures!

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