Data structures are the fundamental building blocks of any computer program that processes and stores data. Simply put, a data structure is a way of organizing data in a computer's memory or on disk so that it can be easily accessed and manipulated.
The choice of a data structure depends on the type of data, the operations that will be performed on the data, and the performance requirements of the program. Some common data structures include arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, graphs, and hash tables.
Arrays are a simple data structure that stores a collection of elements of the same type in contiguous memory locations. Linked lists are a more flexible data structure that consists of a sequence of nodes, each containing data and a reference to the next node in the sequence.
Stacks and queues are data structures that are used to store and manipulate collections of elements. A stack is a last-in, first-out (LIFO) data structure, while a queue is a first-in, first-out (FIFO) data structure.
Trees and graphs are more complex data structures that are used to represent hierarchical relationships between elements. Trees have a single root node and branches that extend downwards, while graphs can have multiple nodes and edges that can connect any two nodes.
Hash tables are a data structure that uses a hash function to map keys to values, allowing for fast access to the values based on their associated keys.
Understanding data structures is essential for building efficient algorithms and programs that can handle large amounts of data.
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