What is An Array and Explain It?

In the world of information technology, computer programming has a great value. Without programming, software development is impossible. In this regard, an Array comes as an essential part of a programming language that helps in software development. Further, it contains a group of similar data types stored within adjacent memory locations. Moreover, you can also define arrays as a combination of digits, images, etc. organized in rows and columns based on their types or other aspects. In this blog, you will learn what an Array is, and its various other aspects in-depth. So, let's get started with the definition of Array.

What is meant by Array?

An array in programming language is a collection of similar elements of data that are stored within adjacent or contiguous memory areas. The simplest part of an array is that its data type is similar for all the elements that exist in the array. However, it becomes easier to find the location of memory with the distribution of adjacent memory locations. For this, you can use the offset of the base value. Here, the term offset refers to a number that defines the difference between two indexes. 

Moreover, arrays are one of the oldest elements of data structures that are essentially used in any program. Further, once you declare an array, you can increase or decrease the size of an array in any way.  These are generally used to carry multiple items such as integers, characters, objects, heaps, hash tables, strings, and many more. 

Some key properties of an Array include the following:

  • An array contains a fixed size of elements which you need to specify while creating an array. This cannot be altered or changed once declared.
  • An Array offers randon access to the elements using their indexes. 
  • Arrays can hold elements related to similar data types.

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Need for an Array

Arrays are extensively useful in most computer programming for multiple tasks such as searching and sorting algorithms, applying multiple data structures, etc. These tasks also include storing and processing of different data parts that are related. Further, arrays are used for keeping track of huge amounts of related data. 

Moreover, the reasons behind need for an array are as follows: 

  • Arrays allows you to group elements of similar data type that makes it easier to manage and modify related data.
  • They allow you to iterate over multiple elements in a series using loops. 
  • Arrays offer random access to the elements using the respective index. 
  • You can use arrays flexibly for sorting and searching algorithms that makes it more efficient to identify specific elements.
  • Its contiguous memory distribution helps to store elements in a series that makes it efficient. Also, the processor can easily access these elements that leads to better performance.
  • By using arrays, you can easily implement other data structures such as stacks, matrices, etc.
  • Moreover, arrays are highly useful to deal with large datasets where they offer an effective way to store data and modify it. 

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Indexing in Array

In Arrays, indexing is the process to access individual elements of an array using their index number. Further, array is a collection of multiple elements of similar data type stored within the adjacent memory location. However, a unique index is allotted to each element that exists in an array which begins from 0 for the 1st element, 1 for the 2nd, and so on.  

Let us understand the different types of indexing in Array:

  • Zero-based Indexing:In zero-based indexing, the array’s first value is referred to as the “0” index. Many programming languages mainly follow this type of indexing. 
  • One-based Indexing:In this indexing in an array, if the first component is 1 within the array, then it is called the one-based indexing.    
  • N-based Indexing:In n-based indexing, the index’s first element can be any value, even a negative value. 

How to initialize an Array?

Initializing an array means to set up an array with some set of rules. Depending on the programming laguage you use, the method of initializing an array may vary. Let us understand how an array can be initialized.

Initializing During Declaration

In this initializaton method, the array is stated and initialized using certain values within a single line where the array’s size is fixed automatically based on the total values that exist with the curly braces{}. The following example will help you to understand well. Here, we used five elements 1 to 5 to initialize an array.

int[] numbers = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5};
Initialization Using a Default Values and a Defined Size

This method of initialization of an array is stated using a defined size through a new keyword and the array’s size is specified using []. Further, the line of code builds an array of a size of 5 with numbers. Moreover, the elements within an array are allotted default values according to their data type. You can understand the same in the following example;

int[] numbers = new int[5];
Empty Array Initialization using a Specific Dimension

This method of initializing an array is similar to the earlier approach which uses a specific size to initialize. Further, the size of an array is decided through a size of variable rather than the precise value. It is only useful when the array carries a dynamic size and it is fixed during the array's runtime.

Example of this method is as follows;

int size = 5;

int[] numbers = new int[size];
Initializing Array After Stating Explicit Values

In this process, an array is initially stated with a specific measurement of five. Later, an array’s each element is allotted an individual value based on index notation. In Java programming, the first element at index is 0, therefore its arrays are called zero-indexed. The following example will help you understand the initialized number’s array with some values.

int[] numbers = new int[5];

numbers[0] = 1;

numbers[1] = 2;

numbers[2] = 3;

numbers[3] = 4;

numbers[4] = 5;
Multidimensional Array

You can also develop multidimensional arrays within Java programming. The following example will help you understand the multidimensional array. Here, we used a 2D array called “Matrix” which stated and initialized. The outer braces {} specify the matrix’s rows and the inner braces {} mention the row elements. In the below example, the initialization of the matrix array takes place with the values in the three rows starting from 1 to 9.                         

int[][] matrix = {{1, 2, 3}, {4, 5, 6}, {7, 8, 9}};

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Multiple Operations on an Array

In Java, arrays provide multiple operations to be executed on these arrays. Let us know the various operations performed on arrays:
Accessing Elements:Using the respective index, you are allowed to access the separate elements. Here, the arrays are zero-indexed. Example: 1st element index 0, 2nd element at index 1, and so on.

  • Insertion:Having an array you are allowed to add any value to any index of an array. Here the condition is that the new value should contain the related data type.
  • Deletion:You can delete the array’s elements either from starting, middle, or end of an array. Further, to fill the empty place, the process might need shifting elements from the removed one.
  • Searching:Searching is an operation within an array where you can search any element within it. The element may or may not be there in the array. For this task, you can use linear and binary search algorithms.        
  • Updating:Another operation in the array is updating. Changing the element's value in an array’s specific index is a common updating operation. It can be done by allotting a new value to the index we want to perform the changes.
  • Sorting:It is nothing but organizing the array’s elements in a particular order. It can be ascending or descending order. There are multiple sorting algorithms available to use such as Quick Sort, Bubble Sort, etc. 
  • Merging :You can merge two or more arrays to form a single array through this method.
  • Splitting:This operation splits a single array into two or more individual parts which makes it easier to manage the process.
  • Copying:Through this operation, you can build a duplicate copy of an array. This is another common operation while working with arrays. 
  • Resizing:When you work with arrays in some programming languages, they contain a fixed size which requires resizing. To modify the array size, you might require to build a new array and copy the existing array elements to the new one.

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Types of Arrays

Based on dimensions, arrays can be of multiple types. But there are two primary types:
1) One Dimensional (1D):The arrangement of elements of an array in a linear series is known as a one dimensional array which is a basic array.         
2) Multi Dimensional:If an array contains more than one dimension, then it is a multi-dimensional array which includes 2D, 3D, etc. 

Advantages of an Array

Let us know the various advantages of the array.

  • Arrays are useful to store any value with a fixed size.
  • Arrays include most similar data with the similar name.
  • The arrays allow you to randomly access elements.
  • Further, an array can store elements in contiguous memory areas.

Disadvantages of an Array

  • The operations like insert, delete, and update of any element within the array can be expensive due to the elements stored in contiguous memory locations.
  • The array’s length should always be predefined which can be an issue.
  • Due to constant data structure, it is difficult to alter or change the length of an array. 

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Using an array is essential to work with any programming language as it is a part of programming. There are multiple applications of an array such as mobile phone’s contact list, online ticket booking, image and speech processing, graphics, and more. They provide great utility to us by saving memory and code reusability. So, get more updates on arrays and other aspects by watching this space. 

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As a content writer at HKR trainings, I deliver content on various technologies. I hold my graduation degree in Information technology. I am passionate about helping people understand technology-related content through my easily digestible content. My writings include Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Python, Salesforce, Servicenow and etc.