A data structure is a way of storing data in a computer so that it can be used efficiently and it will allow the most efficient algorithm to be used. The choice of the data structure begins from the choice of an abstract data type (ADT). A well-designed data structure allows a variety of critical operations to be performed, using as few resources, both execution time and memory space, as possible. Data structure introduction refers to a scheme for organising data, or in other words, it is an arrangement of data in computer’s memory in such a way that it could make the data quickly available to the processor for required calculations.
A data structure should be seen as a logical concept that must address two fundamental concerns:
- First, how the data will be stored, and
- Second, what operations will be performed on it.
As a data structure is a scheme for data organisation so the fundamental definition of a data structure should be independent of its implementation. The functional definition of a data structure is known as ADT (Abstract Data Type) which is independent of implementation. The way in which the data is organised affects the performance of a program for different tasks. Computer programmers decide which data structures to use based on the nature of the data and the processes that need to be performed on that data. Some of the most commonly used data structures include lists, arrays, stacks, queues, heaps, trees and graphs.