What Type of Data Structure Does a Stack Is?


Angela Bailey

A stack is a type of data structure that follows the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle. In simple terms, it means that the last element added to the stack is the first one to be removed. Just like a physical stack of objects, where you can only access the topmost item, a stack data structure allows access to only one item at a time.

Properties of a Stack

A stack has two fundamental operations: push and pop. The push operation adds an element to the top of the stack, while the pop operation removes and returns the topmost element. These operations are typically implemented using two main methods:

  • Push: This method adds an element to the stack. It increases the size of the stack by one and places the new element at the top.
  • Pop: This method removes and returns the topmost element from the stack. It decreases the size of the stack by one.

Implementation of a Stack

A stack can be implemented using various programming languages, including but not limited to C++, Java, Python, and JavaScript. Let’s take a look at how we can implement a basic stack using an array in JavaScript:

class Stack {
  constructor() {
    this.items = [];

  push(element) {

  pop() {
    if (this.length === 0) {
      return "Underflow";
    return this.pop();

The Array Implementation

In this example, we define a class called “Stack” with two methods: push() and pop(). The items[] array serves as our underlying data structure to store the elements.

The push() method appends an element to the end of the array using the push() function. The pop() method checks if the stack is empty (underflow condition) and returns “Underflow” if it is. Otherwise, it removes and returns the last element of the array using the pop() function.

Other Implementations

Apart from an array-based implementation, a stack can also be implemented using a linked list or dynamic arrays. Each implementation has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on various factors such as performance, memory usage, and ease of implementation.

Common Use Cases

Stacks are widely used in computer science and software development due to their simplicity and efficiency in solving specific problems. Some common use cases include:

  • Function call stack: Storing information about function calls in programming languages.
  • Expression evaluation: Evaluating arithmetic or logical expressions.
  • Undo/Redo functionality: Managing a history of actions that can be undone or redone.
  • Backtracking algorithms: Keeping track of visited locations during pathfinding or maze-solving algorithms.

In Conclusion

A stack is a type of data structure that follows the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle. It can be implemented using arrays, linked lists, or dynamic arrays, depending on specific requirements. Understanding stacks and their applications can greatly enhance your problem-solving skills as a programmer.

Remember to choose the appropriate data structure based on your needs and consider factors such as efficiency, memory usage, and ease of implementation. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle various programming challenges.

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