What Is FIFO Data Structure Explain With an Example?


Larry Thompson

Today, we will delve into the concept of FIFO data structure and explore its significance in computer science. FIFO stands for First-In, First-Out, which means that the first element to be inserted into the data structure is also the first one to be removed. This type of data structure is often referred to as a queue.

Understanding FIFO Data Structure

In a FIFO data structure, elements are added at one end and removed from the other end. Think of it as a line of people waiting for their turn at a ticket counter. The person who arrives first is served first, and as more people join the line, they stand behind others in a sequential order.

A queue follows the same principle. When an element is added to the queue, it is placed at the end (known as the rear or tail) of the queue. When an element needs to be removed from the queue, it is taken from the front (known as the head) of the queue.

Example: Queueing System

Let’s understand FIFO data structure with an example of a queueing system at a popular restaurant. The restaurant has limited seating capacity, so they have implemented a system where customers need to wait in line until a table becomes available.

We can represent this queue using an array or linked list data structure. Each customer entering the restaurant gets added to this queue with their name and party size.

  • Step 1: The first customer enters and joins an empty queue.
  • Step 2: Another customer arrives and joins behind the first customer.
  • Step 3: More customers arrive and join behind others in sequential order.
  • Step 4: A table becomes available, and the first customer in the queue is called to be seated.
  • Step 5: The customer who was seated leaves, creating a vacant table.
  • Step 6: If more customers are waiting, the next person in the queue is called to fill the vacant table.

This process continues until all customers are served or leave the queue. This example perfectly demonstrates the FIFO principle at work. The first customer to join is always the first one to be seated when a table becomes available.

Benefits of FIFO Data Structure

FIFO data structure offers several advantages in various computing scenarios:

  • Order preservation: FIFO ensures that elements are processed or accessed in the same order they were inserted.
  • Simplicity: Queue operations like enqueue (adding an element) and dequeue (removing an element) are straightforward and easy to implement.
  • Breadth-first search: FIFO data structure is extensively used in graph algorithms like breadth-first search (BFS), where exploring neighboring nodes level by level is crucial.

In conclusion

FIFO data structure, also known as a queue, follows a simple yet powerful principle of first-in, first-out. It has various applications in computer science and can be implemented using arrays or linked lists. Understanding this concept will help you solve problems efficiently and make informed decisions while designing algorithms or systems that require ordered processing of elements.

If you enjoyed this article, stay tuned for more tutorials on different data structures and their applications!

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