A graph is an abstract data structure that models the relationships in a set of objects.


Graphs are made up of vertices and edges. Vertices contain data, and edges represent a connection between vertices. Vertices that have an edge connecting them are called adjacent.

A directed graph has edges with one-way relationships, while an undirected graph has relationships that are bidirectional.

Some quick vocabulary:

  • Loop: An edge that connects to the same vertex on both ends.

  • Cycle: Path in which the only repeated vertices are the first and last ones.

  • Edge Weight: Any value assigned to an edge.

  • Vertex Degree: The number of edges connected to a vertex.

Representing Graphs on Computers

Adjacency Matrix

An adjacency matrix A is a square n x n matrix used to represent the connections between graph vertices, where n is the number of vertices in the graph.

Each element a[i][j] has the value 1 when there exists an edge from vertex u[i] to vertex u[j], and 0 when there is no edge. If the graph is undirected, then the matrix is symmetric. In a directed graph, the rows represent source vertices and the columns represent destination vertices.

When using an adjacency matrix, data on the edges and vertices must be stored externally.

Adjacency List

In an adjacency list each vertex is stored as an object, and that object stores a list of adjacent vertices. This implementation allows for storing additional data on the vertices and edges (if the edges are also stored as objects). Adjacency lists are more efficient for spare graphs.


Last updated