What Is Stack in Data Structure in English?

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Heather Bennett

In the field of computer science, a stack is a fundamental data structure that follows the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle. It is a collection of elements where the addition and removal of items happen from only one end, known as the top.

Properties of a Stack:

  • Order: The order in which elements are added to a stack is preserved.
  • Insertion: Elements can only be inserted or removed from the top of the stack.
  • Access: Only the topmost element of the stack can be accessed directly.

Operations on a Stack:

A stack supports two primary operations:

  1. Push: The push operation adds an element to the top of the stack. When an item is pushed onto a stack, it becomes the new top element.
  2. Pop: The pop operation removes and returns the topmost element from the stack. After popping an item, the next item below it becomes the new top element.

An Example Scenario:

To understand stacks better, let’s consider a real-life scenario – stacking books on a table. Each time you place a book on top, it becomes visible and accessible. Similarly, when you remove a book from the stack, you can only access and remove the one on top.

Common Applications of Stacks in Computer Science:

The LIFO nature of stacks makes them useful in various algorithms and programming scenarios such as:

  • Evaluating Expressions: Stacks can be used to evaluate and solve arithmetic expressions, especially those involving parentheses.
  • Function Call Stack: Stacks are crucial in managing function calls and maintaining the execution context of recursive functions.
  • Undo/Redo Operations: Stacks are often used to implement undo and redo functionality in applications.
  • Backtracking: Algorithms that involve backtracking often use stacks to store and retrieve the state of the search space.

Implementing a Stack:

A stack can be implemented using arrays or linked lists. Arrays offer constant-time access but have a fixed size, while linked lists provide dynamic size but require additional memory for pointers.

In Summary:

A stack is a data structure that follows the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle. It supports two primary operations: push and pop. Stacks find applications in various scenarios such as evaluating expressions, managing function calls, implementing undo/redo operations, and facilitating backtracking algorithms.

To learn more about stacks and their implementations in different programming languages, check out our related tutorials!

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