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21 Jun 2023

# Exploring the Types of Data Structures: A Comprehensive Overview

Skill-Lync

Data is an invaluable resource for businesses and organizations striving to thrive in today's competitive and challenging world. The abundance of information provides a wealth of options and superior solutions to address problems and overcome obstacles. However, effectively harnessing the power of data requires meeting substantial demands, particularly in terms of organization and accessibility. Without a systematic approach to managing data, even vast amounts of information are rendered useless and fail to be transformed into actionable assets.

This brings us to the central question: What is a data structure? In this article, we will explore the concept of data structures, delve into different types of data structures, discuss their classification, and examine their practical applications. By understanding data structures and algorithms, businesses can improve their ability to organize and utilize data effectively. Now, let's dive deeper into the fascinating world of data structures and algorithms.

## What Exactly Is Data Structure?

Before delving into the definition of data structures, let's first address the question: What is data? In simple terms, data refers to information optimized for processing and movement. It encompasses facts, figures, and other forms of information that are stored on computers.

Contrastingly, data structures are specialized formats used to organize data on a computer to efficiently organize, process, store, and retrieve information. They serve as a means of handling and managing information, rendering it more readily usable.

When we consider any application, software, or program, we can break down its foundation into two fundamental components: algorithms and data. Data represents the information itself, while algorithms are the rules and instructions that govern how the data is processed and transformed into something meaningful within the context of programming.

To summarize this relationship, we can express it through two simple equations:

Data Structures = Permissible operations on the data + Related data

Programs = Algorithms + Data structures

## Types of Data Structure

• Array: Arrays are collections of data items of the same type stored together in contiguous memory locations. Each element in an array is accessed using its index. Arrays are fundamental and serve as a building block for other data structures.
• Graph: Graphs are non-linear structures that represent sets of elements. They consist of nodes (vertices) connected by edges. Graphs can be used to model relationships between various entities. Trees are a special type of graph where nodes have specific connection rules.
• Hash Table: Hash tables, also known as hash maps, are data structures that use arrays to store key-value pairs. They employ a hash function to map keys to specific locations in the array, enabling efficient retrieval and storage of data. Hash tables are helpful for quick access to information based on a unique key.
• Linked List: Linked lists store collections of items in a linear order. Each element, known as a node, contains data and a reference to the next node. Linked lists are flexible and allow dynamic memory allocation, making them efficient for insertions and deletions.
• Stack: Stacks store collections of items in a linear order and follow the LIFO ("last in, first out") principle. Elements can only be inserted or removed from the top of the stack, resembling a stack of plates.
• Queue: Queues are similar to stacks as they also store collections of items in a linear order. However, they adhere to the "first in, first out" (FIFO) principle. Elements are added at the rear and removed from the front, akin to a waiting queue.
• Tree: Trees organize data in a hierarchical structure with a topmost node called the root and subsequent levels of child nodes. Trees represent relationships and hierarchies, such as directory structures or organizational charts.
• Trie: Tries, or keyword or prefix trees, store strings as data items. They are visualized as graphs, each node representing a character in the string. Tries are commonly employed in applications like search engines for efficient prefix-based searches.

## Types of Algorithms in Data Structure

• Brute Force Algorithm: The Brute Force algorithm is a straightforward approach to problem-solving. It involves trying every possible solution to the problem until a suitable one is found. Although simple, there may be more efficient algorithms for complex problems.
• Recursive Algorithm: Recursive algorithms solve problems by breaking them into smaller, similar subproblems and solving them recursively until a base condition is reached. This approach is commonly used for calculating factorials, generating Fibonacci series, and traversing graphs using depth-first search (DFS).
• Divide and Conquer Algorithm: Divide and Conquer algorithms break down a problem into smaller subproblems, solve them independently, and then combine the results to obtain the final solution. Examples include binary search, merge sort, quicksort, and Strassen's matrix multiplication.
• Dynamic Programming Algorithms: Dynamic Programming algorithms solve complex problems by breaking them into overlapping subproblems and storing the results to avoid redundant calculations. This technique is used in problems like the knapsack problem, weighted job scheduling, and the Floyd Warshall algorithm.
• Greedy Algorithm: Greedy algorithms make locally optimal choices at each step to find a global optimum. They build solutions incrementally based on the immediate benefit. Examples of problems solved using greedy algorithms include Dijkstra's shortest path algorithm, Prim's algorithm for minimum spanning trees, Kruskal's algorithm, and Huffman coding.
• Backtracking Algorithm: Backtracking algorithms solve problems incrementally by exploring all possible solutions, removing those that fail to satisfy the problem constraints. They are commonly used in problems such as the M-coloring problem, the Hamiltonian cycle, solving maze puzzles, and N-queen problems.
• Randomized Algorithm: Randomized algorithms incorporate randomness or probability to achieve efficient and practical solutions. They use random numbers or random choices to make decisions. QuickSort is an example of a randomized algorithm where the pivot selection is based on a random number.
• Sorting Algorithm: Sorting algorithms arrange data in a specific order, such as ascending or descending. They are used to organize data efficiently for easier searching and retrieval. Examples of sorting algorithms include quicksort, selection sort, bubble sort, merge sort, and insertion sort.
• Searching Algorithm: Searching algorithms locate a specific element or key within a data collection. Standard searching algorithms include linear search (for unsorted data) and binary search (for sorted data).
• Hashing Algorithm: Hashing algorithms map data to specific indices using a hash function. This technique is commonly used for fast data retrieval based on a key. Hashing algorithms are helpful in tasks like data indexing and password verification.

## Types of Data Structures in Python

### Mutable Data Structures

Mutable data structures can be modified, allowing additions, removals, or changes to their elements. Contrastingly, immutable data structures cannot be modified once created. Let's take a closer look at these categories:

• Lists: Lists are ordered collections of items enclosed in square brackets. They can store elements of different types and can be modified using various methods, such as appending, removing, or updating elements. Lists are versatile and commonly used for storing and manipulating data.
• Dictionaries: Dictionaries are unordered collections of key-value pairs enclosed in curly braces. They allow fast retrieval of values based on unique keys. Dictionary elements can be modified by adding, removing, or updating key-value pairs. Dictionaries are useful for tasks that require efficient lookups based on specific keys.
• Sets: Sets are unordered collections of unique elements enclosed in curly braces. They do not allow duplicate values. Sets provide methods to add, remove, or perform operations like union, intersection, and difference. They are helpful for mathematical operations or removing duplicates from a collection.

### Immutable Data Structure

• Tuples: Tuples are ordered collections of elements enclosed in parentheses or created without enclosing brackets. Tuples are immutable, meaning their elements cannot be modified once defined. However, tuples can be accessed, sliced, and used for various operations. They are often used when data needs to be protected from accidental changes.

#### Conclusion

Data is a crucial resource that drives modern commerce, and as a result, the demand for data scientists has skyrocketed. Since 2012, there has been a staggering 650% increase in the demand for data scientists, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. The field of computer science remains one of the most sought-after careers in the IT industry, presenting a tremendous opportunity for individuals looking to embark on an exciting and rewarding path.

Skill-Lync's Post Graduate Program in Data Analytics and Data Science is designed to equip you with the comprehensive skills and knowledge necessary to excel in data science. This program provides a well-rounded education covering all essential aspects of data analytics and data science, ensuring you are prepared to secure an ideal position as a data scientist. Talk to our experts to get complete course details.

Author

Anup KumarH S

Author

Skill-Lync

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