What Is Nodes in Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

What Is Nodes in Data Structure?

A node is a fundamental component of many data structures, including linked lists, trees, and graphs. It is a basic building block that contains data and may also contain a reference or a pointer to another node.

Linked Lists and Nodes

In the context of linked lists, a node consists of two parts: the data part and the next part. The data part holds the actual information that the node represents, while the next part holds the reference to the next node in the list. This linkage between nodes allows us to traverse through the list.

To illustrate this concept, consider an example of a singly linked list that stores integers:

    Node 1           Node 2           Node 3
+---+---+      +---+---+      +---+---+
| 5 | *-|---->| 9 | *-|---->| 3 | *-|
+---+---+      +---+---+      +---+-—-+

In this example, each node contains an integer value as its data part and a reference (indicated by *) to the next node in line. The first node is called the head of the linked list, while the last node points to NULL or None, indicating that there are no more nodes after it.

Trees and Nodes

In tree structures, nodes have a similar structure but with some variations depending on whether it is a binary tree or an n-ary tree. In general, each node in a tree holds its own data along with references to its child nodes.

Let’s consider an example of a binary tree:

          Node A
         /       \
     Node B    Node C

In this binary tree, each node contains its data and references to its left and right child nodes. The relationships between nodes create a hierarchical structure.

Graphs and Nodes

Nodes in a graph, also known as vertices, are similar to nodes in linked lists and trees. However, in graphs, nodes can have connections or edges to other nodes. These connections can be one-way or two-way, forming directed or undirected graphs.

Consider an example of an undirected graph:

          /   \
         B     C
        / \   /
       D   E F

In this graph, each node represents a unique entity, and the edges between them represent relationships or connections. For instance, node A has an edge connecting it to node B and another edge connecting it to node C.


In summary, nodes are crucial components of various data structures. They hold the actual data and maintain links or pointers to other related nodes. Understanding the concept of nodes is essential for comprehending how different data structures operate and how data is organized within them.

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