What Is Meant by Directed Graph in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

A directed graph, also known as a digraph, is a type of data structure used in computer science to represent relationships between objects. In a directed graph, each object is represented by a vertex or node, and the relationships between objects are represented by edges or arcs.


A directed graph is defined as a set of vertices and a set of edges. The vertices represent the objects or entities, while the edges represent the relationship between them. Each edge has a direction associated with it, indicating the flow or directionality of the relationship.


There are several ways to represent a directed graph in computer memory. One common representation is through an adjacency matrix. In an adjacency matrix, each row and column represents a vertex, and the value at each cell indicates whether there is an edge between two vertices.

Another representation is through an adjacency list. In an adjacency list, each vertex is associated with a list of its adjacent vertices. This representation is more memory-efficient for sparse graphs.


A directed graph can have various properties that can be useful in solving different problems:

  • Cyclic vs Acyclic: A directed graph can either be cyclic or acyclic. A cyclic graph contains at least one cycle or loop, while an acyclic graph does not contain any cycles.
  • Strongly Connected vs Weakly Connected: A directed graph is strongly connected if there is a path from any vertex to any other vertex. Otherwise, it is weakly connected.
  • In-Degree and Out-Degree: The in-degree of a vertex in a directed graph refers to the number of incoming edges to that vertex, while the out-degree refers to the number of outgoing edges.


Directed graphs have a wide range of applications in computer science and beyond:

  • Graph Algorithms: Many graph algorithms, such as depth-first search and topological sorting, are designed specifically for directed graphs.
  • Networks: Directed graphs are used to model various types of networks, including social networks, computer networks, and transportation networks.
  • Data Flow Analysis: Directed graphs are used in data flow analysis to analyze the flow of data through a program or system.
  • Databases: Directed graphs can be used to represent dependencies between database tables or schema relationships.


A directed graph is a powerful data structure for representing relationships between objects. Its ability to capture directionality makes it suitable for modeling real-world scenarios and solving a wide range of problems. Understanding the properties and applications of directed graphs is crucial for anyone working in the field of computer science or data analysis.

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