What Is the Major Data Structure Used in Hierarchical Data Model?


Larry Thompson

In the field of database management, hierarchical data model is one of the earliest and most widely used data models. It represents data in a tree-like structure, where each element or record has a parent-child relationship with other elements. In this model, the major data structure used to organize and store data is called a tree.

The Tree Data Structure

A tree is a collection of nodes connected by edges. It consists of a root node at the top, which has zero or more child nodes connected to it. Each child node can have its own set of child nodes, forming a hierarchical structure.

In the context of hierarchical data model, each node in the tree represents a record or an entity. The edges between nodes represent the relationships between these entities. For example, in a company hierarchy, the root node could represent the CEO, with subsequent nodes representing different levels of management and employees.

Advantages of Using Trees

  • Efficient Data Access: Trees allow for efficient access and retrieval of data. With proper indexing and traversal algorithms, it becomes easier to navigate through the hierarchy and locate specific records.
  • Natural Representation: Hierarchical structures naturally mirror real-world relationships. This makes it intuitive for users to understand and work with the data.
  • Data Integrity: The hierarchical model enforces strict parent-child relationships, ensuring data integrity and consistency within the structure.

Limitations of Hierarchical Data Model

While trees provide many benefits for organizing hierarchical data, there are some limitations to consider:

  • Lack of Flexibility: Hierarchical models are rigid in nature and may not be suitable for representing complex relationships that do not fit into a strict parent-child hierarchy.
  • Data Redundancy: In some cases, data redundancy can occur when multiple records share the same parent. This can lead to inefficiencies and potential inconsistencies.


The hierarchical data model relies on the tree data structure to organize and store data in a hierarchical manner. Trees provide an efficient and natural representation of hierarchical relationships, making it a suitable choice for many applications. However, it is important to consider the limitations of this model and evaluate whether it aligns with the specific requirements of your data.

In summary, the tree data structure is the major data structure used in the hierarchical data model, offering advantages such as efficient data access and natural representation, while also having limitations such as lack of flexibility and potential data redundancy. Understanding these aspects will help you make informed decisions when working with hierarchical data.

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