Difference Between Linear And Non Linear Data Structures

By Mohit Uniyal|Updated : April 14th, 2022

Difference Between Linear And Non-Linear Data Structures: Data structures are the method to store and organize the information/data for the convenience of the user. Data can be arranged linearly or non-linearly. Arranging the data in any of the two methods carries various differences which are explained in the coming sections where a comparison of Linear data structure vs non-linear data structure is provided in detail.

Linear data structures are arranged sequentially and linearly whereas non-linear data structure is where data is not arranged sequentially and linearly. Knowing the comparison of non-linear vs linear data structure can be really helpful in understanding the complex topics in the GATE CSE syllabus. In the coming sections, we will discuss the difference between linear and non-linear data structures along with knowing what is a linear data structure, and what is non-linear data structure.

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Difference Between Linear And Non-Linear Data Structures

The major difference between the linear and non-linear data structures is that linear data structures are ordered whereas non-linear state structures are not ordered and are distributed in a random manner. Let us see the complete list of the differences between the linear and non-linear data structures in the table provided below:

Key Differences Between Linear And Non-Linear Data Structures

Linear Data StructuresNon-Linear Data Structures
Elements are ordered in a linear and sequential manner.Elements are ordered in a hierarchy.
Only a single level is present.Multiple level data structures are present.
Implementation is relatively easier.Implementation is relatively complicated.
Traversed in a single run Take multiple runs to traverse the data.
Memory utilization is not efficient compared to non-linear data structuresMemory utilization is efficient.
Examples: array, queue, linked list, etc.Example: Trees, graphs, etc.

What are Linear Data Structures?

Linear data structures are the structures where data elements are ordered in a sequential or linear way. In the linear data structure, each element is attached to the elements before and after them. The involvement of the structures is at a single level only. They are easy to implement. 

The linear data structures can be of various types. A few types of the liner data structures are:

  • Array,
  • Stack,
  • Queue,
  • Hash Tables
  • Linked list

What are Non-Linear Data Structures?

Non-linear data structures are structures where data is not ordered in a sequential or linear way. There exist multiple levels of arrangement. It requires multiple run downs to traverse the elements. The elements may or may not be attached to the elements before and after them. They are known to be more efficient than linear data structures.

The non-linear data structures have various types. A few of the Non-linear data structures are:

  • Trees 
  • Graphs

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FAQs on Difference Between Linear And Non Linear Data Structures

  • The major difference between the linear and non-linear data structures is that linear data structures are ordered and non-linear data structures are not ordered. The non-linear data structures are an efficient way to order the data and save memory efficiently.

  • Linear data structures are the methods used to organize and arrange the data in a linear way. They are used to stack the data to use memory efficiently and save traverse time in rundowns. There are various types of linear data structures such as an array, stack, queue, etc.

  • The non-linear data structures are the methods used to stack the data in hierarchical order in order to save memory space. They are memory efficient. The types of the non-linear data structures are trees, graphs, etc.

  • The non-linear data structures are more efficient in arranging data with regards to saving memory compared to the linear data structures. The linear data structure covers more memory than the non-linear data structures.

  • The difference between linear and non-linear data structures based on the implementation of the structure is that linear data structures are easy to implement whereas the non-linear data structures are complicated hence not as easy to implement.

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