What Is LIFO and FIFO in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

What Is LIFO and FIFO in Data Structure?

Data structures play a crucial role in computer science and programming. They provide a way to organize and store data efficiently, allowing for quick retrieval and manipulation.

Two commonly used data structures are LIFO (Last In, First Out) and FIFO (First In, First Out). In this article, we will explore these two concepts in detail.

LIFO (Last In, First Out)

LIFO is a data structure where the last element added to the structure is the first one to be removed. Think of it as a stack of books where you can only access the topmost book. When you add a new book to the stack, it becomes the topmost book, and if you want to remove a book, you can only remove the topmost one.

LIFO follows the principle of stack. It has two main operations:

  • Push: This operation adds an element to the top of the stack.
  • Pop: This operation removes the topmost element from the stack.

A common example of LIFO is the call stack in programming languages. When a function is called, its execution context is pushed onto the call stack. When the function returns, its execution context is popped from the call stack.

FIFO (First In, First Out)

FIFO, on the other hand, is a data structure where the first element added to the structure is also the first one to be removed. It follows a queue-like behavior. Imagine waiting in line at a ticket counter; the person who arrives first gets their ticket first.

FIFO has two main operations:

  • Enqueue: This operation adds an element to the end of the queue.
  • Dequeue: This operation removes the first element from the queue.

A real-life example of FIFO is a printer queue. When multiple print jobs are sent to a printer, they are processed in the order they were received.

Comparison Between LIFO and FIFO

While LIFO and FIFO may seem similar, they have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for different scenarios. Here’s a comparison between the two:

Order of Removal Last In, First Out First In, First Out
Operations Push (add), Pop (remove) Enqueue (add), Dequeue (remove)
Real-Life Examples Call stack in programming languages Printer queue

In conclusion, LIFO and FIFO are fundamental concepts in data structures. Understanding their characteristics and operations can greatly help in designing efficient algorithms and solving various programming problems. Whether you need a stack-like behavior or a queue-like behavior, LIFO and FIFO provide flexible options for managing data.

Suggested Reading:

  • Introduction to Data Structures
  • Stack Data Structure Explained
  • Queue Data Structure Explained

Now that you have a clear understanding of LIFO and FIFO, you can apply this knowledge to effectively manage data in your programming endeavors.

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