The construct of a cell (an ordered pair with pointers to either another cell or an atom) and atom (an indivisible sequence (of bits) (i.e. a natural number)) is a fundamental data structure for many programming languages. It's also quite a versatile one, with which you can build arbitrary structures - lists, trees (lists of lists), any graphs.
Is there any alternative to that? I.e. another means to represent arbitrarily structured data?
And are there any particular advantages of this cons+atom method? Because in any ways, the structure makes only sense when you start interpreting that data.

  • $\begingroup$ Any question where "XML" is a possible answer seems a bit too broad and not very computer science related imho. $\endgroup$ – adrianN Aug 22 '17 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see XML as a basis for programming languages (there are few :)) And yes, its CS related. "What are the means to represent structural data" is fundamental enough for my taste. $\endgroup$ – artemonster Aug 22 '17 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ "Structured" is not a well-defined term. Indeed, I'd say any appropriate definition would be a spectrum, i.e. some representation can be more or less structured than another, and context-dependent, i.e. some representation is more structured for some uses than for other uses. $\endgroup$ – Derek Elkins Aug 22 '17 at 20:38

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