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What is the best structure for a data object?

Brick layers know a lot about reasonable structures for bricks and the people at GM understand that wheels should be round, but information technologists seem helpless to tell how data objects are best structured. What is the best structure or structures and why? Who are the best experts on this question?
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Edward Lowry
Asked:
Edward Lowry
1 Solution
 
MarkCCommented:
How long is a piece of string?Seriously, you need to know a few things about not only the data but (i) the platform and the application.
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byoungCommented:
I don't recall ever being "helpless" telling how data structures are best structured because, well, MarkC hit it on the nose, unless you have special powers of programming, or a whole bunch of knowledge about your needs and uses of the data object, you won't be able to tell what to use.
      In fact, using your analogies, the reason we know how to make bricks is because we know what they are needed for, the strength they must have, shape that most optimally fits the need, and a little cosmetic beauty they should posses.  Hence we came up with the modern brick.
      The wheel was probably discovered by trial and error and need.  The people had a need to roll something instead of carrying it(less energy), thus they figured out the circular shape.  The 'people at GM' now know that certain types of rubber, mixed with other elements makes a strong, resistable to heat, surface that grips the road well.  Having treads helps with water, or other surfaces.  Making the wheels hollow and pushing pounds of pressure into them helps smooth the ride....and so on.
      So you see, you must know ALOT before you can decide on anything being 'Best", because quite simply, nothing is 'Best' always.
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8051Commented:
There are two classes of structures:
uninterrupted and interrupted.

Uninterrupted are standard types (char, int, long),
arrays ( unsigned char x[10]) and structures (struct
{...}). All this types takes uninterrupted pool of
memory. This variant always can be processed faster,
with compact code and more secure.

The 'struct' definition is only LOGIC construction, help
you to handle elements offsets and types in array. Instead  
of this you can use indexes and type conversions and good compiler will generate the *same* code.

The best variable type is processor-depended. On 8-bit
processors it is a byte, on 16-bit - int, 32, 64...

Interrupted structures are lists, chains, trees and all
others takes separated memory pool for each element.
It is more complicated structures, you have to spend
more resources to handle it. If it is frequently accessible
data, try to implement it as an array or structure.

This is in general. It is true for all CPU and MPU I know.
For more detailed answer, please send more detailed question.


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Edward LowryAuthor Commented:
This response and the other comments are helpful mainly in confirming for me the poor state of understanding that exists on the issue of what data object structures are reasonable. Thanks.
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