What Is Queue Operation in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

A queue is a linear data structure that follows the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) principle. It is similar to a real-life queue, where the first person to enter the line is the first one to leave. In programming, a queue allows you to add elements at one end and remove them from the other end.

How Does Queue Operation Work?

In a queue, elements are added from one end called the “rear” and removed from the other end called the “front”. This process is known as enqueue and dequeue, respectively. The element that has been in the queue for the longest time is always at the front.

Enqueue Operation

To enqueue an element, you need to follow these steps:

  • Create a new node: Allocate memory for a new node that holds the value you want to add to the queue.
  • Set node value: Assign the desired value to this newly created node.
  • Update pointers: Set appropriate pointers such as next or previous pointers based on your implementation choice.
  • Update rear pointer: If it’s an empty queue, set both front and rear pointers to this new node. Otherwise, set only the rear pointer to this new node.

Dequeue Operation

To dequeue an element, you need to follow these steps:

  • Check if queue is empty: If both front and rear pointers are null, then there are no elements in the queue.
  • Retrieve front element value: Get the value of the element pointed by front pointer before updating it.
  • Update front pointer: Move the front pointer to the next element in the queue.
  • Free memory: Deallocate memory for the node that held the dequeued element.

Applications of Queue Data Structure

Queues find applications in various scenarios where data needs to be processed in a specific order. Some common examples include:

  • Operating Systems: Queues are used to manage processes and handle tasks based on priority or time of arrival.
  • Networks: Queues help manage data packets and ensure efficient transmission and delivery.
  • Printers: Print jobs are often managed using queues, allowing multiple users to share a printer without conflicts.
  • Scheduling Algorithms: Queues are essential in scheduling tasks and managing resources in various algorithms.

In conclusion, a queue is a fundamental data structure that operates on the FIFO principle. It allows you to add elements from one end and remove them from the other end. Understanding queue operations is crucial for implementing efficient algorithms and solving real-world problems.

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