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6.8: Parallel Arrays

  • Page ID
    10695
  • Overview

    A group of parallel arrays is a form of implicit data structure that uses multiple arrays to represent a singular array of records. It keeps a separate, homogeneous data array for each field of the record, each having the same number of elements. Then, objects located at the same index in each array are implicitly the fields of a single record.[1]

    Discussion

    A data structure is a data organization and storage format that enables efficient access and modification. More precisely, a data structure is a collection of data values, the relationships among them, and the functions or operations that can be applied to the data. Data structure options include arrays, linked lists, records, and classes.[2]

    Parallel arrays use two or more arrays to represent a collection of data where each corresponding array index is a matching field for a given record. For example, if there are two arrays, one for names and one for ages, the array elements at names[2] and ages[2] would describe the name and age of the third person.

    Pseudocode

    Function Main
        Declare String Array names[5]
        Declare Integer Array ages[5]
        
        Assign names = ["Lisa", "Michael", "Ashley", "Jacob", "Emily"]
        Assign ages = [49, 48, 26, 19, 16]
    
        DisplayArrays(names, ages)
    End
    
    Function DisplayArrays (String Array names, Integer Array ages)
        Declare Integer index
        
        For index = 0 to Size(array) - 1
            Output names[index] & " is " & ages[index] & " years old"
        End
    End
    

    Output

    Lisa is 49 years old
    Michael is 48 years old
    Ashley is 26 years old
    Jacob is 19 years old
    Emily is 16 years old
    

    Key Terms

    parallel array
    An implicit data structure that uses multiple arrays to represent a singular array of records.