Array vs Structure: Difference and Comparison

An array and a structure are different types of data containers used in the third-generation language of computers. The specific third-generation language that these are used is called C++.


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People are moving forward and have started using the less complicated fourth-generation computer languages such as Java. But that doesn’t mean C++ is out of use.

Key Takeaways

  1. Arrays store multiple elements of the same data type, while structures can contain elements of various data types.
  2. Arrays use a single name with an index to access elements, while structures use dot notation with individual member names.
  3. Arrays require continuous memory allocation, while structures allocate memory for each member separately.

Array vs Structure

The difference between array and structure is that an array has an element that is uniform or homogenous. It means that it contains variables of all of the same data types. On the other hand, the structure contains heterogeneous elements. It means that all of the elements contained within a structure are of different data types.

Array vs Structure

An array is a container element in C++ that holds many different variables of the same data type, such as names, serial numbers, cities, etc.

Variables of the same data type are commonly called “homogenous arrays.” The array name depicts the names of all the variables included within the particular array.

Therefore, making it easier for the users to distinguish one array from another.

A structure is a container element in C++ that holds data of many data types. This means that structure can have data for name, city, and serial number each.

Structure needs to have multiple columns or distinctive markers to specify the name of each data type. It could make the functioning of the structure quite difficult to understand as it is confusing.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonArrayStructure
OperatorSquare bracketsDot or period
KeywordsNone “struct”
Data typesSingleMany
StorageContinuousNot continuous

What is Array?

Simply put, an array is one of the many elements used in C++ to categorize data into specific areas.

It is a container element that holds data of the same data type.

It means that in a C++ program regarding school, a single array might hold all the variables.

These variables could be under the data type student ID or student name.

The program school can have many such data types, for example, name, class, house, admission number, age, gender, etc.

Each array holds all the details of the students in the school about the specific data type.

The syntax for an array is “type array_name [size];”.

The semicolon at the end is necessary. Without it, the command wouldn’t be processed.

It is because all commands in both C++ and Java end with a semicolon.

The elements or variables in an array are all stored in a contiguous manner.

It means continuous locations throughout the program.

Because of this contiguous location storage facility of arrays, it is easier to find a specific one by its name.

It also would make it easy to access.

But to locate and access an array, the array name isn’t the only thing needed. The creator or the user must have the index number of each one to locate it with ease.

The C++ operator to find or access an array is the square brackets.

The name of an array also acts as a pointer. 

It is because it points towards the first variable in an array.

A new variable cannot be created after the coding of a C++ program is done. Therefore, the creator must make sure that they have added all the necessary elements before saving the program.

A feature of arrays is that all the elements stored are of the same size.

Arrays don’t have any special declarations or keywords that announce the beginning.

Arrays are not user-defined. It means that users cannot edit or redo the codes and that only the creator or the coder has that right.

What is Structure?

The structure is one of the many container elements frequently used in the programming language C++.

A structure contains all the different data types.

It means that, for example, in a structure named “school” there could be all the data types regarding a student that include the name, the student ID, gender, guardian, etc.

All the data types come under a single heading, which would not be the heading of any data type.

The syntax, or the coding format, of a structure, is “struct struct_name type element a; type element b variable a, variable b;”.

A semicolon is a must, as, without it, the entire structure would not be formed and instead would be auto-deleted from the program.

A drawback regarding structures is that all the data contained within them are not stored in one place or in a continuous manner.

It means the data is scattered throughout the memory storage assigned to a specific program.

This feature makes it hard to locate a specific structure, even though the user might know the name of the structure.

Therefore, accessing a structure is difficult and takes time to do so.

The only way to access a structure is by searching for its name. There are no numbers or index values to locate and access it.

To access the structure, the variable that needs to be used is a period or a dot. It is called the dot variable or the “dot operator” in C++.

It cannot be said that the structure name is a pointer.

It is because there are no provisions in C++ to allow the structure name to indicate the name of the first variable.

Even after a specific structure has been saved variables can be added.

This is helpful as users can use this provision to add variables that are in sync with the structure.

For this reason, structures are also called “user-defined containers.”

Because structures contain many different data types, all the elements and variables in them are of different sizes.

To identify a structure, one can look at the beginning starter or the keyword. It indicates the initiation of a structure.

This keyword is “struct.”

Main Differences Between Array and Structure

  1. While the declaration variable or the operator used to access an array is the square bracket, the operator and declaration variable for structure is the period, also called the dot operator.
  2. The name of an array acts as a pointer. But the name of a structure does not act as a pointer.
  3. Arrays are not user-defined. Therefore, users cannot edit the container. But structures can be edited by users as they are user-defined.
  4. The data contained within an array is stored continuously in a program. But in the case of a structure, the data is not stored continuously.
  5. It is easier to access the data within an array, whereas the data stored in a structure is hard to access.


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