Simply put, a data structure in computer science, is a system used to store data, organize it, to allow easy modification and access. Data structures are being used in almost every program or software system that has been developed or is currently being developed. Data structures are a part of the fundamentals of Computer Science and Software Engineering.
Data structures are foundational to any computer program. Computer programs are reliant on data of course. To have a well running program, it is crucial to have your data structure right! The right data structures organize many data types logically and in a way where the data can easily be accessed, modified, and configured.
Data structures can be categorized in two ways:
- Non-linear Data Structure - Elements of non-linear data structures are stored and accessed in non-linear order. Examples of non-linear data structure are: Tree and Graph.
- Linear Data Structure - Elements of Linear data structure are accessed sequentially, although, elements can be stored in any order. Examples of linear data structure are: LinkedList, Stack, Queue and Array.
Data structures can become incredibly complicated. In this short write up, I haven’t even scratched the surface. However, having a basic understanding of data structures is a great way to dive into the rabbit hole of data structures!