What does Sparse Array mean?

Technology CommunityCategory: Data StructuresWhat does Sparse Array mean?
VietMX Staff asked 5 months ago

sparse array is an array of data in which many elements have a value of zero. This is in contrast to a dense array, where most of the elements have non-zero values or are “full” of numbers.

0	3	5	0	0	0	0	9	0	0

For example consider representing a very large 2D matrix of values, where most of the values are 0. The most straightforward representation would be a very large two dimensional array of integers. This straightforward approach has a few limitations however. If the matrix we are reperesenting is very large, it requires a large quantity of memory to store, even if the number of non-zero elements is small. A better way of representing a sparse martrix would be to only store the values that are non-zero, in such a way that iterating through the rows or columns of non-empty elements is relatively fast.