Data Structures – Basic Concepts

Introduction to Data Structures

  • Data Structure is a way to organized data in such a way that it can be used efficiently.
  • Data Structure is a way of collecting and organising data in such a way that we can perform operations on these data in an effective way.
  • Data Structures is about rendering data elements in terms of some relationship, for better organization and storage. For example, we have data player’s name “Virat” and age 26. Here “Virat” is of String data type and 26 is of integer data type.
  • We can organize this data as a record like Player record. Now we can collect and store player’s records in a file or database as a data structure. For example: “Dhoni” 30, “Gambhir” 31, “Sehwag” 33
  • In simple language, Data Structures are structures programmed to store ordered data, so that various operations can be performed on it easily.

Basic types of Data Structures : : 

As we discussed above, anything that can store data can be called as a data strucure, hence Integer, Float, Boolean, Char etc, all are data structures. They are known as Primitive Data Structures.

Data Definition :

Data Definition defines a particular data with following characteristics.

  • Atomic − Definition should define a single concept
  • Traceable − Definition should be be able to be mapped to some data element.
  • Accurate − Definition should be unambiguous.
  • Clear and Concise − Definition should be understandable.

Data Object :

Data Object represents an object having a data.

Data Type :

Data type is way to classify various types of data such as integer, string etc. which determines the values that can be used with the corresponding type of data, the type of operations that can be performed on the corresponding type of data. Data type of two types −

  • Built-in Data Type
  • Derived Data Type

Built-in Data Type

Those data types for which a language has built-in support are known as Built-in Data types. For example, most of the languages provides following built-in data types.

  • Integers
  • Boolean (true, false)
  • Floating (Decimal numbers)
  • Character and Strings

Then we also have some complex Data Structures, which are used to store large and connected data. Some example of Abstract Data Structure are :

  • Linked List
  • Tree
  • Graph
  • Stack, Queue etc.

All these data structures allow us to perform different operations on data. We select these data structures based on which type of operation is required.

Basic Operations : :

The data in the data structures are processed by certain operations. The particular data structure chosen largely depends on the frequency of the operation that needs to be performed on the data structure.

  • Traversing
  • Searching
  • Insertion
  • Deletion
  • Sorting
  • Merging

We will look into these data structures in more details in our later lessons.


What is Algorithm ?

  • An algorithm is a finite set of instructions or logic, written in order, to accomplish a certain predefined task.
  • Algorithm is not the complete code or program, it is just the core logic(solution) of a problem, which can be expressed either as an informal high level description as pseudocode or using a flowchart.
  • An algorithm is said to be efficient and fast, if it takes less time to execute and consumes less memory space. The performance of an algorithm is measured on the basis of following properties :
  1. Time Complexity
  2. Space Complexity

Space Complexity :

Its the amount of memory space required by the algorithm, during the course of its execution. Space complexity must be taken seriously for multi-user systems and in situations where limited memory is available.

An algorithm generally requires space for following components :

  • Instruction Space : Its the space required to store the executable version of the program. This space is fixed, but varies depending upon the number of lines of code in the program.
  • Data Space : Its the space required to store all the constants and variables value.
  • Environment Space : Its the space required to store the environment information needed to resume the suspended function.

Time Complexity :

Time Complexity is a way to represent the amount of time needed by the program to run to completion. We will study this in details in our section.

NOTE : :  Before going deep into data structure, you should have a good knowledge of programming either in C or in C++ or Java.

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