• C Program to Check a Matrix is Sparse Matrix or Not


    In the realm of computer programming, matrices play a vital role. People extensively use them for various mathematical computations, data analysis, and even in games and graphics. However, when dealing with very large matrices, optimizing memory usage becomes crucial.

    A sparse matrix is a matrix that contains a majority of zeros compared to the total number of elements. Efficient techniques can store and process these matrices, saving memory and computational resources, thanks to their inherent sparsity. In this blog post, we will explore a C program to determine whether a given matrix is sparse or not.

    What is a Sparse Matrix?

    Before we proceed further, let’s define what exactly constitutes a sparse matrix. A matrix is considered sparse if the number of zeros present in it exceeds a certain threshold. Typically, if more than 80% of the elements in a matrix are zeros, it is considered sparse. This threshold can vary depending on the application and the specific problem being solved.

    Sparse matrices have a distinctive property: they contain a lot of redundant information. Storing and manipulating this redundant information can be very costly in terms of memory and computational resources. Therefore, specialized algorithms and techniques are employed to optimize the storage and processing of sparse matrices.

    Checking if a Matrix is Sparse in C

    To determine whether a given matrix is sparse or not, we can follow a straightforward approach. We need to count the number of zeros present in the matrix and compare it with the total number of elements. If the proportion of zeros exceeds a certain threshold, we can conclude that the matrix is sparse.

    Let’s take a closer look at the C program to check for a sparse matrix:

    #include <stdio.h>
    #define MAX 100
    // Function to check if a matrix is sparse
    int isSparse(int matrix[][MAX], int rows, int columns)
        int i, j, zeros = 0;
        int totalElements = rows * columns;
        // Count the number of zeros in the matrix
        for (i = 0; i < rows; ++i)
            for (j = 0; j < columns; ++j)
                if (matrix[i][j] == 0)
        // Calculate the proportion of zeros
        float zerosProportion = (float) zeros / totalElements;
        // Check if the matrix is sparse
        if (zerosProportion > 0.8)
            return 1; // Sparse matrix
        return 0; // Not a sparse matrix
    int main()
        int matrix[MAX][MAX];
        int rows, columns;
        printf("Enter the number of rows in the matrix: ");
        scanf("%d", &rows);
        printf("Enter the number of columns in the matrix: ");
        scanf("%d", &columns);
        printf("Enter the elements of the matrix:\n");
        for (int i = 0; i < rows; ++i)
            for (int j = 0; j < columns; ++j)
                scanf("%d", &matrix[i][j]);
        if (isSparse(matrix, rows, columns))
            printf("The matrix is sparse.\n");
            printf("The matrix is not sparse.\n");
        return 0;

    Let’s break down the above code and understand it in detail.

    Understanding the C Program

    The program starts by including the necessary header file stdio.h, which provides standard input/output functions.

    Next, we define the constant MAX and an array matrix of size MAX by MAX to store the elements of the matrix. We also declare variables rows and columns to store the dimensions of the matrix.

    The isSparse function is defined, which takes the matrix, rows, and columns as input arguments and returns an integer value indicating whether the matrix is sparse or not.

    Inside the isSparse function, we initialize the variables i, j, and zeros to zero. The zeros variable will store the count of zeros in the matrix. We also calculate the totalElements by multiplying rows and columns.

    To count the number of zeros in the matrix, we use nested for loops. We iterate over each row and column of the matrix and check if the current element is zero. If it is, we increment the zeros variable.

    After counting the zeros, we calculate the zerosProportion by dividing zeros by totalElements. This value represents the proportion of zeros in the matrix.

    Finally, we compare the zerosProportion with the threshold of 0.8. If the zerosProportion is greater than 0.8, we conclude that the matrix is sparse and return 1. Otherwise, we return 0 to indicate that the matrix is not sparse.

    In the main function, we prompt the user to enter the number of rows and columns for the matrix. We then use nested for loops to read the elements of the matrix from the user.

    Next, we call the isSparse function with the matrix, rows, and columns as arguments. If the function returns 1, we print the message “The matrix is sparse.” Otherwise, we print “The matrix is not sparse.”


    In this blog post, we explored a C program to check whether a matrix is sparse or not. We discussed the concept of sparse matrices and why they are important in certain applications. The C program employs a simple approach to count the number of zeros in the matrix and compares it with the total number of elements to determine sparsity.

    Using this program, you can quickly determine whether a matrix qualifies as sparse or not by checking its threshold. This information can be useful in optimizing memory usage and computational efficiency when dealing with large matrices.

    To delve deeper into the topic, you can explore techniques to store and process sparse matrices efficiently. Specialized data structures and algorithms are available that can expedite computations on sparse matrices and reduce their memory footprint.

    In conclusion, understanding and identifying sparse matrices is essential in various domains, and with the help of this C program, you can easily check whether a given matrix is sparse or not.