Difference Between Array and Structure

Difference Between Array and Structure

3 mins read1K Views Comment
Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Aug 29, 2023 11:08 IST

In C programming language, developers use both data structures, array, and structure, to store and manage data. However, these data structures are defined and used in different ways. Are you aware of the difference between array and structure in C programming?

2023_02_MicrosoftTeams-image-290.jpg

The main difference between array and structure in C programming is that developers can use arrays to store a fixed number of elements of the same data type. In contrast, developers can use structure to store a collection of elements of different data types.

Now, before proceeding further and diving deeper into the difference between array and structure, let’s go over the list of topics listed under the table of contents (TOC) that we will cover in this article.

Table of Contents (TOC)

Difference Between Array and Structure 

For a better understanding, let’s cover the difference between array and structure in a tabular format:

Benchmark Array Structure
Definition It is a collection of elements of the same (homogeneous) data types. It is a collection of elements of different (heterogeneous) data types.
For element access, it uses “[ ]” (square bracket) or subscripts. “.” (Dot operator)
Datatype Non-primitive. User-defined.
Is it a pointer? Yes. It is a pointer as it points to the first element of the collection. No.
Instantiation of objects is possible? No. Yes.
Is the size fixed? Yes. No.
Is bit field possible? No. Yes.
In this datatype, searching and traversal are Easy and Fast. Slow and complex.
Keyword No keyword is present to declare an array. The “Struct” keyword is used to define a structure.
Syntax data_type array_name[size]; struct sruct_name{ data_type1 element1; data_type2 element2; };

What is an Array in C Programming? 

Definition: In C programming, an array is a collection of elements of the same data type stored in contiguous memory locations. 

In layman’s terms, programmers, developers, etc., use an array in order to store a fixed number of elements. Once these elements are stored, they are accessed by using an index. In order to understand what an array is, let’s go through an example.

You can also explore: Understanding the Difference Between Structure and Union in C

Array example:

 
#include <stdio.h>
int main() {
int numbers[5]; // Declare an array of 5 integers
int i;
// Store values in the array
for (i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
numbers[i] = i * 2;
}
// Print the values of the array
printf("The values of the array are: ");
for (i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
printf("%d ", numbers[i]);
}
return 0;
}
Copy code

Output:

The values of the array are: 0 2 4 6 8

What is a Structure in C Programming? 

Definition: In C programming, a structure is a user-defined data type that allows you to store a collection of elements of different data types.

In layman’s terms, each item/element in a structure is known as a member. And each of these members can have different data types. In object-oriented programming (OOPs), the structure can declare both variables and functions. In order to understand what a structure is, let’s go through an example.

You can also explore: Difference Between C and C++

Structure example:

 
#include <stdio.h>
struct student {
char name[50];
int age;
float grade;
};
int main() {
struct student s1; // Declare a structure variable
// Store values in the structure
printf("Enter student name: ");
scanf("%s", s1.name);
printf("Enter student age: ");
scanf("%d", &s1.age);
printf("Enter student grade: ");
scanf("%f", &s1.grade);
// Print the values of the structure
printf("\nThe student information is:\n");
printf("Name: %s\n", s1.name);
printf("Age: %d\n", s1.age);
printf("Grade: %.2f\n", s1.grade);
return 0;
}
Copy code

Key Differences Between Array and Structure

Here are the key differences between array and structure:

  • The array size is fixed, but it’s not the case with structures.
  • In an array, a bit field is not possible, but it is possible in the case of structures.
  • A structure is a user-defined datatype, whereas an array is a non-primitive datatype.
  • Instantiation of array objects is not possible, but the instantiation of structure objects is possible.
  • An array is a pointer, as it points to the first element of the collection, whereas a structure is not a pointer.
  • In array, searching, and traversal is easy and fast. But, in structure, searching and traversal are complex and slow.
  • An array uses “[ ]” (square brackets) for element access, but a structure uses “.” (dot operator) for element access.
  • An array consists of elements of the same (homogeneous) data types. In contrast, a structure is a collection of elements of different (heterogeneous) data types.

You can also explore: Top 80+ C Programming Interview Questions and Answers

Conclusion

In this article, we have explored what array and structure are in the C programming language. We have also explored the difference between array and structure in great detail. If you have any queries related to the topic, please feel free to send your queries to us in the form of a comment. We will be happy to help.

Happy Learning!!

About the Author
author-image
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio