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What is the impact of data structure selection on memory usage?

The selection of data structure significantly impacts memory usage, affecting efficiency and performance of a program.

Data structures are fundamental in programming, serving as the building blocks for organising and storing data in a computer. The choice of data structure can greatly influence the memory usage of a program. Different data structures have different memory footprints, and the choice between them often involves a trade-off between memory usage and computational efficiency.

For instance, an array is a simple data structure that stores elements of the same type in a contiguous block of memory. This makes it memory-efficient for storing large amounts of data. However, operations like insertion and deletion can be costly in terms of time, as they require shifting elements to maintain the contiguous memory allocation.

On the other hand, linked lists, which store elements in separate nodes linked together, allow for efficient insertion and deletion as they only require changing the links between nodes. However, they consume more memory than arrays as they need to store the additional links.

Trees and graphs are more complex data structures that provide efficient solutions for certain problems, but they also consume more memory. For example, a binary tree requires storage for data, as well as two pointers for each node. A graph, depending on its representation, may require an adjacency matrix or an adjacency list, both of which can consume significant memory for large graphs.

Hash tables, which provide very efficient search, insertion, and deletion operations, also consume more memory. They need to maintain an underlying array and possibly linked lists or other data structures for handling collisions.

In conclusion, the choice of data structure has a profound impact on the memory usage of a program. It's crucial to understand the memory implications of different data structures and make informed decisions based on the specific requirements of the program. This includes considering the type and amount of data to be stored, the operations to be performed on the data, and the memory constraints of the system.

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