What Is Link List in C++ Data Structure?


Larry Thompson

A link list, also known as a linked list, is a fundamental data structure in the C++ programming language. It is a collection of nodes, where each node contains two parts: data and a pointer to the next node in the sequence. Unlike arrays, which store elements in contiguous memory locations, link lists are dynamic structures that allow efficient insertion and deletion of elements at any position.

Advantages of Link Lists:

  • Dynamic Size: Link lists provide flexibility in terms of size. Elements can be added or removed dynamically without the need for resizing the list.
  • Efficient Insertion and Deletion: Link lists excel at inserting or deleting elements at any position.

    Unlike arrays, where shifting of elements is required after insertion or deletion, link lists only require updating pointers.

  • Memory Efficiency: Since link lists use pointers to connect nodes, memory is allocated dynamically when needed. This allows for efficient memory utilization as resources are allocated on-demand.

Main Types of Link Lists:
There are several types of link lists commonly used in programming:

Singly Linked List:

In a singly linked list, each node contains data and a pointer to the next node in the sequence. The last node points to NULL to indicate the end of the list.

Doubly Linked List:

A doubly linked list extends the concept of a singly linked list by adding an additional pointer to the previous node. This enables traversal both forward and backward within the list.

Circular Linked List:

In a circular linked list, the last node points to the first node instead of NULL. This creates a circular structure where traversal can be continuous.

Operations on Link Lists:

  • Insertion: Elements can be inserted at the beginning, end, or any position within a link list. The process involves creating a new node and updating pointers accordingly.
  • Deletion: Similar to insertion, deletion can be performed at any position within the list. The process involves updating pointers to bypass the removed node.
  • Traversal: Link lists can be traversed from the first node to the last node using pointer manipulation.
  • Searching: Searching for a specific element within a link list requires traversing through each node until a match is found or reaching the end of the list.

The C++ Link List Implementation:

To implement a link list in C++, one needs to define a Node structure and various operations such as insertion, deletion, traversal, and searching. Here’s an example of how it can be done:


struct Node {
int data;
Node* next;

class LinkedList {
Node* head;

LinkedList() {
head = nullptr;

void insert(int value) {
// Create new node
Node* newNode = new Node;
newNode->data = value;
newNode->next = nullptr;

// If list is empty, make new node as head
if (head == nullptr) {
head = newNode;
} else {
// Traverse to the end and insert new node
Node* temp = head;
while (temp->next != nullptr) {
temp = temp->next;
temp->next = newNode;

// Other operations like deletion, traversal, and searching go here..

int main() {
LinkedList myList;

// Inserting elements into the list

// Perform other operations on the list.

return 0;

Link lists are a powerful data structure in C++ that provide dynamic size, efficient insertion and deletion, and memory efficiency. They come in various types such as singly linked lists, doubly linked lists, and circular linked lists. By understanding their implementation and operations, you can leverage link lists to efficiently manage collections of data in your C++ programs.

Remember to use the appropriate link list type based on your requirements, and enjoy the benefits of this versatile data structure!

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