Data Structures


Computers can store and process vast amounts of data. Formal data structures enable a programmer to mentally structure large amounts of data into conceptually manageable relationships.

Sometimes we use data structures to allow us to do more: for example, to accomplish fast searching or sorting of data. Other times, we use data structures so that we can do less: for example, the concept of the stack is a limited form of a more general data structure. These limitations provide us with guarantees that allow us to reason about our programs more easily. Data structures also provide guarantees about algorithmic complexity — choosing an appropriate data structure for a job is crucial for writing good software. Following subtopics describe the various data structures available.