Linear and Non-Linear Data Structures

Explain what are linear data structure & non-linear data structure?

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A data structure is classified into two categories: Linear and Non-Linear data structures. A data structure is said to be linear if the elements form a sequence, for example Array, Linked list, queue etc. Elements in a nonlinear data structure do not form a sequence, for example Tree, Hash tree, Binary tree, etc. There are two ways of representing linear data structures in memory. One way is to have the linear relationship between the elements by means of sequential memory locations. Such linear structures are called arrays. The other way is to have the linear relationship between the elements represented by means of links. Such linear data structures are called linked list.


  • Aug 13th, 2011

Linear data structure: A linear data structure traverses the data elements sequentially, in which only one data element can directly be reached. Ex: Arrays, Linked Lists
Non-Linear data structure: Every data item is attached to several other data items in a way that is specific for reflecting relationships. The data items are not arranged in a sequential structure. Ex: Trees, Graphs

Lovelyn Rose

  • Jul 2nd, 2013

In a linear data structures, if we traverse from an element, we can strictly reach only one other element. In a non-linear data structure, traversing from an element can lead lead to more than one element.

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