What Is an Ordered List in Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

An ordered list is a fundamental concept in data structures. It represents a collection of elements that are arranged in a specific order, typically based on their numerical or alphabetical value. In this tutorial, we will explore what an ordered list is, its characteristics, and how it can be implemented in various programming languages.

What Is an Ordered List?
An ordered list, also known as a linearly linked list or simply a list, is a linear data structure where each element points to the next element in the sequence. Unlike an array, it does not require contiguous memory allocation and can dynamically grow or shrink as elements are added or removed.

Characteristics of an Ordered List
Order: The elements in an ordered list are arranged in a specific order. – Linked Structure: Each element has a reference to the next element.

No Random Access: Unlike arrays, you cannot directly access elements by their index. You have to traverse the list from the beginning to reach a specific element. – Dynamic Size: An ordered list can dynamically grow or shrink as elements are added or removed.

Implementing an Ordered List
There are several ways to implement an ordered list in different programming languages. Let’s take a look at two popular implementations:

Singly Linked List:
In this implementation, each element contains two parts: the data and the reference to the next element. The last element points to null, indicating the end of the list.

Javascript Example:

class Node {
constructor(data) {
this.data = data;
this.next = null;

class OrderedList {
constructor() {
this.head = null;

insert(data) {
let newNode = new Node(data);

if (this.head === null || data < this.head.data) { newNode.next = this.head; this.head = newNode; } else { let current = this.head; while (current.next !== null && data > current.next.data) {
current = current.next;
newNode.next = current.next;
current.next = newNode;

display() {
let current = this.head;
while (current !== null) {
current = current.next;

let orderedList = new OrderedList();
orderedList.display(); // Output: 3, 5, 7

Array-based Implementation:
In this implementation, an array is used to store the elements of the ordered list. The elements are inserted in a sorted manner to maintain the order.

Java Example:

import java.util.ArrayList;

class OrderedList {
private ArrayList data;

public OrderedList() {
this.data = new ArrayList<>();

public void insert(int element) {
int index = 0;

while (index < data.size() && element > data.get(index)) {

data.add(index, element);

public void display() {
for (int element : data) {

OrderedList orderedList = new OrderedList();
orderedList.display(); // Output: 3, 5, 7

An ordered list is a valuable concept in data structures as it provides a way to organize and manipulate elements in a specific order. Whether implemented using a linked list or an array, an ordered list allows for efficient insertion and retrieval of elements. Understanding this fundamental data structure is crucial for any programmer to effectively manage and process data.

Now that you have a solid understanding of what an ordered list is and how it can be implemented, you can confidently apply this knowledge in your programming endeavors.

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