What Is Node in Linked List Data Structure?
A linked list is a linear data structure that consists of a sequence of nodes. Each node in a linked list contains two components: data and a reference to the next node. The node is a fundamental building block of a linked list.
In most programming languages, a node in a linked list is defined as a structure or an object. It typically includes two fields:
- Data: This field holds the actual value or information stored in the node.
- Next: This field contains a reference (or pointer) to the next node in the linked list.
The ‘Next’ field helps to establish the link between adjacent nodes, allowing traversal from one node to another.
Visual Representation of Nodes
To visualize how nodes are connected in a linked list, consider the following example:
Node 1 Node 2 Node 3 +-------+ +-------+ +-------+ | Data | | Data | | Data | | Next -|---> | Next -|---> | Next -|---> NULL +-------+ +-------+ +-------+
In this example, there are three nodes (Node 1, Node 2, and Node 3) forming a linked list. Each node contains some data and points to the next node using the ‘Next’ field. The last node has its ‘Next’ field set to NULL to indicate the end of the linked list.
Operations on Nodes
The primary operations performed on nodes include:
- Creation: Nodes are created dynamically using dynamic memory allocation.
- Insertion: Nodes can be inserted at the beginning, middle, or end of the linked list.
- Deletion: Nodes can be deleted from a linked list based on specific criteria.
- Traversal: Nodes are traversed sequentially to access or process the data stored in them.
The ‘Next’ field allows efficient traversal through the linked list, as each node holds a reference to the next node.
Advantages of Linked List Nodes
The use of nodes in a linked list offers several advantages:
- Dynamic Size: Linked lists can dynamically grow and shrink as nodes are added or removed.
- Flexible Insertion and Deletion: Nodes can be easily inserted or deleted without affecting other nodes.
- Ease of Implementation: Linked lists are relatively simple to implement compared to other data structures.
In conclusion, a node is an essential component of a linked list. It contains both data and a reference to the next node. Understanding nodes is crucial for effectively working with linked lists and performing various operations on them.