Which Data Structure Is Mostly Asked in Interviews?


Larry Thompson

When it comes to technical interviews, one question that often comes up is, “Which data structure is mostly asked?” As a job seeker preparing for interviews, it’s crucial to focus on mastering the data structures that are frequently tested. In this article, we will explore some of the most commonly asked data structures and discuss why they are important.

1. Arrays

Arrays are one of the fundamental data structures in programming.

They provide a way to store multiple elements of the same type in contiguous memory locations. Arrays offer constant-time access to elements by their index and are widely used due to their simplicity and efficiency.

Key Points about Arrays:

  • Arrays have a fixed size determined at initialization.
  • Elements in an array can be accessed using their index.
  • Insertion and deletion operations can be costly as they may require shifting elements.

2. Linked Lists

A linked list is another commonly asked data structure.

Unlike arrays, linked lists do not require contiguous memory allocation. Instead, each element (node) holds a reference to the next node in the list. Linked lists offer efficient insertion and deletion operations but have slower access times compared to arrays.

Key Points about Linked Lists:

  • Each node in a linked list contains data and a reference to the next node.
  • Linked lists can dynamically grow or shrink based on needs.
  • Traversal through a linked list requires iterating over each node.

3. Stacks

A stack is an abstract data type that follows the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle.

It can be implemented using arrays or linked lists. Stacks are commonly used to solve problems that require tracking function calls, managing recursive algorithms, and parsing expressions.

Key Points about Stacks:

  • New elements are added to the top of the stack (push operation).
  • Elements can only be removed from the top of the stack (pop operation).
  • Stacks support operations like peek (accessing the top element) and isEmpty (checking if the stack is empty).

4. Queues

A queue is another commonly asked data structure that follows the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) principle.

Similar to stacks, queues can be implemented using arrays or linked lists. Queues are extensively used in scenarios like task scheduling, breadth-first search algorithms, and message passing systems.

Key Points about Queues:

  • New elements are added at the rear end of the queue (enqueue operation).
  • Elements are removed from the front end of the queue (dequeue operation).
  • Queues also support operations like peek and isEmpty.

In addition to these four data structures, other frequently asked ones include trees, graphs, heaps, hash tables, and more. The choice of which data structure to focus on depends on your specific role or industry. It’s essential to understand their characteristics, use cases, and time complexities for various operations.

In conclusion, while there isn’t a single “most asked” data structure in interviews, mastering arrays, linked lists, stacks, and queues will undoubtedly prepare you for a wide range of technical interviews. Remember to practice implementing these data structures and solving problems using them. Good luck with your interview preparations!

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