What Is the Data Structure Best Suitable to Merge Two List?


Heather Bennett

In the world of data structures, there are various options available to perform different operations efficiently. When it comes to merging two lists, one data structure stands out as the best choice – the linked list.

What is a Linked List?

A linked list is a linear data structure consisting of a sequence of nodes, where each node contains a value and a reference to the next node. Unlike arrays, linked lists do not require contiguous memory allocation. Instead, each node can be stored anywhere in memory, and they are connected through pointers.

Why is a Linked List Suitable for Merging Two Lists?

Merging two lists involves combining their elements while maintaining their order. Linked lists excel at this operation for several reasons:

  • Efficient Insertion: In a linked list, inserting an element at the end or beginning takes constant time O(1) since we only need to update the pointers of adjacent nodes.
  • Order Preservation: Linked lists easily preserve the order of elements in both lists during merging without any additional effort.
  • No Need for Memory Reallocation: Unlike arrays, which may require resizing when merging two large lists, linked lists can grow dynamically without needing reallocation.

Merging Two Lists using Linked List

To merge two lists using a linked list, we follow these steps:

  1. Create an empty linked list that will store the merged result.
  2. Traverse both input linked lists simultaneously from their heads.
  3. Compare the values of nodes in both lists and append the smaller value to the merged list.
  4. Move the pointer of the merged list and the pointer of the list from which we appended the value.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until we reach the end of either list.
  6. If any list still has remaining elements, append them to the merged list.


Let’s consider two linked lists:

  • List 1: 1 -> 3 -> 5
  • List 2: 2 -> 4 -> 6

After merging these lists, we obtain:

  • Merged List: 1 -> 2 -> 3 -> 4 -> 5 ->6


In conclusion, a linked list is the most suitable data structure for merging two lists. Its efficient insertion, order preservation, and dynamic memory allocation make it an excellent choice for this operation. By following a simple merging algorithm, we can combine two linked lists while maintaining their order without much complexity.

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