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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is an Array?
2.1.
Syntax of Array
3.
What is a Structure?
3.1.
Syntax of Structure
4.
Difference between Arrays and Structures
5.
Frequently Asked Questions
5.1.
Which is better structure or array?
5.2.
What is the major difference between Array and Structure?
5.3.
Is a structure an array in C?
5.4.
Why is an array called a structure?
6.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Difference between Array and Structure

Author Muskan Sharma
0 upvote

Introduction

An array is a data structure. It is a collection of elements having the same data types. The structure is a user-defined data type. The structure is a collection of different data types.
Let's dig into the topic and explore the difference between Array and Structure.

An array is a collection of elements of the same data type, stored in contiguous memory locations. Elements are accessed by their index, starting from zero. On the other hand, a structure is a composite data type that can hold elements of different data types. It allows you to group variables under a single name.

Difference between Array and Structure

This article will help you enhance your knowledge about what arrays and structures are. How they are different from each other? 

So let’s dig into the topic and explore more about the difference between array and structure.

What is an Array?

An array is one of the most important and basic parts of data structure. It helps us to arrange or structure the data in a way that can be used easily. This section of the article will help you get a brief introduction to Array with its implementation.

As we have to discuss the difference between array and structure. So we should start by knowing the arrays first. An array is a linear data structure. It is a collection of elements having the same data types. In arrays, the elements are stored in contiguous memory locations. Its elements can be easily accessed with the help of an index.

Syntax of Array

Data_Type Array_Name [Array_size]
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What is a Structure?

The structure is a user-defined data type. The structure is a collection of different data types.

In structure, there is no need for the data to be stored in contiguous memory locations. It is similar to arrays, but the difference is that it stores data of different types.

Syntax of Structure

struct StructureName
{
data_type1 member1;
data_type2 member2;
data_type3 member3;
.
.
.
.
.


};

 

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Difference between Arrays and Structures

Now let’s look into the difference between Array and Structure: 

Parameter Array Structure
Data Type All elements must have the same data type. Elements can have different data types.
Declaration Syntax datatype arrayName[size]; struct structureName { datatype member1; datatype member2; ... };
Accessing Elements Accessed by index (e.g., arrayName[index]). Accessed by member name (e.g., structureName.member).
Memory Allocation Contiguous memory allocation for elements. Non-contiguous memory allocation for members.
Initialization Can be initialized at the time of declaration. Members can be initialized individually.
Size Determination Size must be determined at the time of declaration. Size is determined by the sum of member sizes.
Usage for Homogeneous Data Suitable for a collection of similar data types. Suitable for a collection of different data types.
Flexibility Less flexible in handling different data types. More flexible in handling different data types.
Example int numbers[5]; c struct Point { int x; int y; };
Memory Overhead Typically has lower memory overhead. May have higher memory overhead due to padding.
Copying/Passing to Functions Passed by reference (address) in most cases. Passed by value unless explicitly passed by reference.
Dynamic Allocation Difficult to dynamically resize after declaration. Easier to dynamically allocate and resize.
Default Initialization Elements are not automatically initialized. Members are not automatically initialized.
Use Cases Best suited for collections of similar elements. Useful for grouping related but different elements.

Also see,  Difference between Array, Queue & Stack

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better structure or array?

The choice between a structure and an array depends on the data organization. Use arrays for collections of similar elements, while structures are preferable for grouping different data types or related variables under a single name.

What is the major difference between Array and Structure?

Array and Structure differ as the Array contains the data of the same data type, and the structure contains a collection of different data types. The Array's name points to the first element of the Array, so we can say the Array is like a pointer, but the structure is not.

Is a structure an array in C?

No, a structure is not an array in C. A structure is a user-defined data type that groups related data elements, while an array is a collection of elements of the same type accessed by index.

Why is an array called a structure?

An array is not specifically called a structure. In programming terminology, a structure typically refers to a composite data type that groups different variables under a single name. Arrays, on the other hand, are collections of elements of the same data type stored in contiguous memory, often used for organizing and accessing similar data efficiently.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between arrays and structures in programming is essential for effective data organization. Arrays excel in managing collections of similar elements, optimizing access and manipulation, while structures offer flexibility by accommodating different data types under a unified name.  We hope this article helped you in your learning. 

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