As the fundamentals of computer programming, data structures are of paramount importance. You can use them to efficiently and effectively store, organize, and manipulate data. Arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, and graphs are just a few examples of the many data structures available.
Here are some basic concepts that are common to many data structures:
- Element: An element is a basic unit of data that is stored in a data structure. For example, in an array, each element is a single value that is stored at a specific index.
- Index: An index is a numeric label that is used to identify an element in a data structure. In an array, for example, the index is used to access a specific element in the array.
- Key: A key is a value that is used to identify an element in a data structure. In a dictionary, for example, the key is used to access the value associated with that key.
- Value: A value is the data stored in an element of a data structure. In a dictionary, for example, the value is the data associated with a specific key.
- Node: A node is a basic unit of a data structure that typically stores a single element and has references to other nodes. Nodes are often used to build linked data structures, such as linked lists and trees.
- Link: A link is a reference from one node to another node in a data structure. In a linked list, for example, each node has a link to the next node in the list.
- Edge: An edge is a connection between two nodes in a graph data structure. Edges can be directed or undirected, and they may have a weight associated with them.
Just a few of the many fundamental ideas employed in data structures are the ones listed above. Learning the many other concepts and phrases that are unique to particular data structures is crucial if you want to use them successfully in your programming.