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Applications, Advantages and Disadvantages of Set

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  • Last Updated : 16 Mar, 2023
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In this article, we will unlock the potential of your data with the elegance and efficiency of Set Data Structures. 

A set is a collection of unique elements, it’s a mathematical concept that has been implemented in many programming languages. In computer science, a set data structure is a data structure that stores a collection of unique elements and provides efficient operations for adding, removing, and querying for the presence of elements.

Set data structures are commonly used in a variety of computer science applications, including algorithms, data analysis, and databases. The main advantage of using a set data structure is that it allows you to perform operations on a collection of elements in an efficient and organized way.

For example, when you are working with a large dataset and you want to filter out duplicate items or when you need to check if an element is already in a collection or not, a set data structure would be an ideal choice because it provides constant time complexity for these operations.

Representation of a Set

Sets can be represented in two ways, one is known as the Roster form and the other is famous as the Set-Builder form, these two forms can be used to represent the same data, just the style varies in both cases.

1.) Roster Form: In Roster Form, the elements are inside {} ⇢ Curly brackets. All the elements are mentioned inside and are separated by commas. Roster form is the easiest way to represent the data in groups. For example, the set for the table of 5 will be, A= {5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35…..}.

2.) Set-Builder Form: In the Set-builder form, elements are shown or represented in statements expressing relation among elements. The standard form for Set-builder, A= {a: statement}. For example, A = {x: x = a3, a ∈ N, a < 9}.

Realtime Applications of Set:

  • Set are used in the music player app to list all the songs in proper order.
  • Set are used to determine the distinct values in an array.
  • Set are used to detect cycles in a Linked List.
  • Sets are used in various database operations such as performing joins.

Advantages of Set:

  • Set can be used to store unique values in order to avoid duplications of elements present in the set.
  • Elements in a set are stored in a sorted fashion which makes it efficient.
  • Set are dynamic, so there is no error of overflowing of the set.
  • Searching operation takes O(logN) time complexity.
  • Sets provide fast and efficient operations for checking if an element is present in the set or not.
  • Sets can be implemented using different data structures, such as HashSets and TreeSets, each with its own advantages and use cases. 
  • Sets can be used in a variety of applications, including algorithms, data analysis, and databases.
  • Sets can be used to improve performance in many algorithms by providing fast lookups.

Disadvantages of Set:

  • Elements in a set can only be accessed with pointers, there is no indexing in set like arrays.
  • Set is very complex to implement because of its structure and properties.
  • A set takes O(logN) time complexity for basic operations like insertion and deletion.
  • Not suitable for large data sets.
  • Sets can only store elements of a specific data type.
  • Sets can use more memory than other data structures, such as arrays or lists, because they store each element in a separate location.
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