A graph is a well defined data type used in computer science to represent a lot of concepts, like the cities on the Travelling salesman problem or nodes in a network. It is something like this:

a computer science graph

In some languages, like Portuguese, there is a different word for this data type ("grafo") and for other use of graphs ("gráfico"). But in English, the word graph is also overlapped with the concepts of chart, plot or diagram.

This makes searching for specific results near impossible. For instance, "recommended program to draw graphs" yields "Excel", even though it does not support the kind of graph I was looking for.

Is there any solution for this problem, when searching for adequate terms to reference a computer science graph, like a better and well-defined synonym for it?

  • "A graph is a well defined data type" -- sez who???
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 14 at 2:36
  • I'd call your diagram a graphic, and use graph only for Cartesian x-y coordinates. Jan 14 at 15:04
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    Is there any solution for this problem. The problem is that English uses the word graph to mean graphs, plots, charts, diagrams, and probably more besides. So the solution would have to be to fix English and to rewrite the Internet. Jan 14 at 16:08
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    Graphs (in the sense of a collection of vertices with some of them connected by edges) were studied long, long before there was such a thing as computer science. But I have found that always using the phrase "graph theory" selects for hits that concern this kind of graph. Jan 15 at 19:02
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    @YosefBaskin That's not correct. In CS, they are definitely called graphs. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graph_%28abstract_data_type%29. And they are certainly not called graphics, unless you are referring specifically to the image itself.
    – siride
    Jan 17 at 13:07

I cannot think of any synonym for graph theory graphs in general. Specifying a 'directed graph' or 'undirected graph' may help. Likewise, we may get better results on search engines with 'weghted graph' or 'unweighted graph'.

The picture you posted is a weighted directed graph.


Looking up "topological diagram" in a Google Image search, I see the terms network [topology] diagram used quite often:

enter image description here

  • But a topological diagram is a graphic which is representative of a graph. This 'answer' serves only to further confuse. Jan 14 at 19:14
  • The term existed in maths before computers were widespread, and this sense still obtains. The 'travelling postman' diagram is firmly in the maths domain. Jan 14 at 20:07

Is there any solution for this problem, when searching for adequate terms to reference a computer science graph, like a better and well-defined synonym for it?

In search engines if you include other key words the irrelevant hits should go away.

I’d search something like : graph, vertices and edges.

Or terms in the other two answers like : topology, topography, weighted.


There's "network graph", but that is often used to refer to the diagram representing the object, rather than the object itself. The first Google result that I got for "mathematical graph" was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graph_(discrete_mathematics) , although "graph" can also be used in mathematical to refer to a plot on Cartesian coordinates. If you want the graph data type, "graph data type" or "graph data structure" may be the best way to go. Although, when I searched for "recommended program to draw graph", the first result I got was https://analyticsindiamag.com/top-10-graph-theory-software/ . Seeing as how I did that search after doing all the other searches, maybe you need to do a bunch of searches on graph theory first, and that trains Google to return appropriate results rather than graphics programs?     ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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