Linked List is a fundamental data structure in computer science and plays a crucial role in storing and manipulating data. It is a dynamic data structure that consists of nodes, where each node contains a value and a reference to the next node in the sequence. Unlike arrays, linked lists do not have a fixed size and can grow or shrink as needed.
What Is Linked List?
A linked list is formed by connecting nodes together using pointers. Each node contains two parts: the data part, which holds the value, and the next part, which holds the reference to the next node in the sequence. The last node of the list points to null, indicating the end of the list.
Linked lists offer several advantages over other data structures:
- Dynamic Size: Unlike arrays, linked lists do not have a fixed size. Nodes can be added or removed from a linked list at any time.
- Efficient Insertions and Deletions: Inserting or deleting elements from an array requires shifting elements, which can be time-consuming. In contrast, linked list insertions and deletions only require updating pointers.
- Flexible Memory Allocation: Linked lists allow for efficient memory allocation as nodes can be scattered throughout memory instead of occupying a contiguous block.
Types of Linked Lists
There are several types of linked lists, each serving different purposes:
Singly Linked List
In a Singly Linked List, each node has only one pointer that references the next node in the sequence. The last node points to null.
Doubly Linked List
A Doubly Linked List extends Singly Linked List by adding an extra pointer to each node that references its previous node. This allows for easier traversal in both directions but requires additional memory.
Circular Linked List
In a Circular Linked List, the last node points back to the first node, creating a circular structure. This allows for continuous traversal from any node in the list.
Operations on Linked Lists
Linked lists support various operations to manipulate data:
To insert an element in a linked list, we create a new node with the given value and update the pointers accordingly. The new node’s next pointer should point to the next node in the sequence, and its previous pointer (if using a Doubly Linked List) should be updated accordingly.
To delete an element from a linked list, we update the pointers of the surrounding nodes to skip over the node being deleted. The deleted node is then removed from memory.
To traverse a linked list, we start at the head (the first node) and follow each node’s next pointer until we reach null. During traversal, we can perform various operations on each node, such as accessing its value or modifying it.
Linked lists are essential data structures that provide flexibility and efficiency in storing and manipulating data. Their dynamic size and efficient insertion/deletion operations make them suitable for various applications. By understanding different types of linked lists and their operations, you can leverage this powerful data structure in your programming endeavors.
Remember to use proper HTML styling elements like for bold text, for underline text,
- for lists, and
, etc. for subheaders where applicable.