What Is Linked List in Data Structure in Java?

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Scott Campbell

A linked list is a data structure in Java that consists of a sequence of nodes. Each node contains a reference to the next node in the list. Unlike an array, a linked list does not have a fixed size and can dynamically grow or shrink as elements are added or removed.

Why Use Linked Lists?

Linked lists are often used when the number of elements is unknown or may change frequently. They provide flexibility in terms of adding and removing elements, as they do not require shifting elements like arrays do.

Types of Linked Lists

There are different types of linked lists, including:

  • Singly Linked List: Each node has a reference to the next node.
  • Doubly Linked List: Each node has references to both the previous and next nodes.
  • Circular Linked List: The last node points back to the first node, creating a circular structure.

Basic Operations on Linked Lists

The following are some common operations performed on linked lists:

  • Insertion: Adding a new element to the list at a specific position or at the beginning or end.
  • Deletion: Removing an element from the list at a specific position or from the beginning or end.
  • Traversal: Visiting each node in the list to perform certain operations.
  • Searching: Finding whether an element exists in the list and its position if it does.
  • Merging and Splitting: Combining multiple linked lists into one or dividing a linked list into multiple lists.

Example Implementation in Java

Here’s an example of a singly linked list implementation in Java:


class Node {
    int data;
    Node next;

    public Node(int data) {
        this.data = data;
        this.next = null;
    }
}

class LinkedList {
    Node head;

    public void insert(int data) {
        Node newNode = new Node(data);

        if (head == null) {
            head = newNode;
        } else {
            Node current = head;
            while (current.next != null) {
                current = current.next;
            }
            current.next = newNode;
        }
    }

    // Other methods like deletion, traversal, searching, etc.
}

In the above example, the Node class represents a single node in the linked list. The LinkedList class provides methods to perform operations on the linked list such as insertion.

Conclusion

In summary, a linked list is a versatile data structure in Java that allows for efficient manipulation of elements. With its dynamic size and flexible operations, linked lists are commonly used in various applications where frequent modification of elements is required.

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