What Data Structure Is Appropriate for FIFO First in First Out Processing?


Scott Campbell

In computer science and programming, data structures play a crucial role in organizing and managing data efficiently. One such important data structure is the FIFO (First In First Out) queue. A FIFO queue follows the principle of serving elements in the same order as they were added, just like a queue of people waiting in line.

Why Use a FIFO Data Structure?

A FIFO data structure is particularly useful in scenarios where maintaining the order of elements is important. It ensures that the first element inserted into the queue is also the first one to be removed. This makes it suitable for applications that require sequential processing, such as task scheduling or event handling systems.

Implementing FIFO with an Array

One way to implement a FIFO data structure is by using an array. In this approach, we maintain two pointers: one pointing to the front (the oldest element) and another pointing to the rear (the newest element) of the queue.

To enqueue (add) an element, we simply insert it at the rear position and update the rear pointer accordingly. To dequeue (remove) an element, we remove it from the front position and update the front pointer. This ensures that elements are always served in their insertion order.

Let’s see an example:

  <li>Enqueue "A" - Front = Rear = NULL</li>
  <li>Enqueue "B" - Front = 0, Rear = 1</li>
  <li>Enqueue "C" - Front = 0, Rear = 2</li>
  <li>Dequeue      - Front = 1, Rear = 2 (removed element: "A")</li>

Implementing FIFO with a Linked List

Another popular way to implement a FIFO data structure is by using a linked list. In this approach, each element in the queue is represented by a node that contains both the data and a reference to the next node.

To enqueue an element, we create a new node and update the rear pointer to point to it. To dequeue an element, we remove the front node and update the front pointer accordingly.

Using a linked list for FIFO processing allows for dynamic resizing as elements are added or removed. It also avoids unnecessary shifting of elements when removing from the front.


FIFO processing is an important concept in computer science, and choosing the appropriate data structure is crucial for efficient implementation. Whether using an array or a linked list, both approaches offer advantages depending on specific requirements.

By understanding how FIFO works and implementing it with suitable data structures like arrays or linked lists, you can ensure efficient processing of elements while preserving their original order.

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