Are First In, First Out Type of Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

Are First In, First Out Type of Data Structure?

Data structures are an essential part of computer programming, allowing us to efficiently organize and manipulate data. One popular type of data structure is the First In, First Out (FIFO) structure. In this article, we will delve deeper into the FIFO concept and understand how it works.

The FIFO Principle

FIFO follows a simple principle: the first item that is inserted into a data structure is the first one to be removed. Imagine a queue where people stand in line.

The person who arrives first is served first. Similarly, in programming, the FIFO data structure operates on the same principle.


In programming languages like C++, Java, or Python, we can implement a FIFO data structure using various methods. One common approach is to use an array or a linked list.

Array-based Implementation

To implement a FIFO using an array, we need two pointers – one for insertion at the end and another for removal from the front. When an element is inserted at the end of the array, we increment the insertion pointer. When an element is removed from the front, we increment the removal pointer.

Linked List Implementation

A linked list-based implementation utilizes nodes where each node holds both data and a reference to the next node. The first node represents the front of the queue while subsequent nodes follow in order. When an element is added to the queue, a new node is created and linked to the last node in sequence.


The FIFO data structure finds applications in various real-life scenarios:

  • Task Scheduling: FIFO scheduling algorithm assigns resources based on the order of arrival.
  • Print Spooling: Print jobs are processed in the order they are submitted.
  • Buffer Management: In networking, packets are stored in a FIFO buffer before transmission.

Advantages and Disadvantages

FIFO data structures offer several advantages:

  • Simple Implementation: FIFO is easy to understand and implement compared to other complex data structures.
  • Efficient Queue Operations: Insertion and removal of elements have a time complexity of O(1) in most cases.

However, FIFO also has some limitations:

  • No Random Access: Unlike arrays, FIFO does not allow direct access to elements at arbitrary positions.
  • Inefficient Deletion: Removing elements from the middle of a large queue can be inefficient with a time complexity of O(n).

In Conclusion

The First In, First Out (FIFO) data structure is widely used in computer science and has numerous practical applications. It follows a simple principle that ensures the first item inserted is the first one to be removed. By understanding its implementation methods and advantages/disadvantages, we can make informed decisions when choosing the appropriate data structure for our programming needs.

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