What Is Expression in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

What Is Expression in Data Structure?

In the realm of data structures, an expression refers to a combination of values, variables, operators, and function calls that are evaluated to produce a result. Expressions are an integral part of programming languages and are used extensively in algorithms and computations.

Components of an Expression

An expression can be broken down into several components:

  • Values: These are the fundamental pieces of data such as numbers or strings that make up an expression. For example, in the expression 5 + 3, both 5 and 3 are values.
  • Variables: These are named placeholders that can hold different values during program execution. Variables allow us to store and manipulate data dynamically. In the expression x * y, both x and y are variables.
  • Operators: These are symbols or keywords that perform specific operations on one or more values or variables.

    Common operators include arithmetic operators (+, -, *, /), comparison operators (==, !=, >, <), logical operators (&&, ||), and assignment operators (=). Operators define the behavior of expressions. For example, in the expression a > b, > is the comparison operator.

  • Function calls: Functions encapsulate a set of instructions that can be executed by invoking them with specific arguments. In an expression like sin(x) + cos(y), both sin() and cos() are function calls.

Evaluating Expressions

The evaluation of an expression involves applying the defined rules for operators to compute a final result. The evaluation can be performed using various algorithms such as postfix notation, infix notation, or prefix notation.

Expressions can also have different levels of precedence and associativity rules for operators. Precedence determines the order in which operations should be performed, while associativity defines the order in which operations are evaluated when they have the same precedence.


Consider the following expressions:

  • Expression 1: (5 + 3) * 2
  • Expression 2: 4 * (7 – 2)

In expression 1, the addition operation is performed first due to parentheses, resulting in 8 * 2, which evaluates to 16.

In expression 2, the subtraction is performed first, resulting in 4 * 5, which evaluates to 20.


In summary, expressions are fundamental components of data structures and programming languages. They allow us to perform computations and manipulate data by combining values, variables, operators, and function calls. Understanding how expressions are evaluated is essential for writing efficient algorithms and programs.

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