Which Data Structure Is Used in Operating System?


Heather Bennett

When it comes to operating systems, data structures play a crucial role in managing and organizing data efficiently. Different data structures are used in operating systems depending on the specific requirements and objectives. In this article, we will explore some of the commonly used data structures in operating systems.


An array is a fundamental data structure that stores a fixed-size sequence of elements of the same type. In operating systems, arrays are often used to represent various system resources, such as process control blocks or file control blocks. Arrays provide fast access to elements using their indices and are an essential tool for efficient memory management.

Linked Lists

A linked list is a dynamic data structure consisting of nodes that contain both data and a reference to the next node in the sequence. Linked lists are widely used in operating systems for tasks such as managing processes or maintaining file system metadata. Linked lists allow for efficient insertion and deletion operations, making them suitable for dynamic scenarios where elements need to be added or removed frequently.


Trees are hierarchical data structures that consist of nodes connected by edges. They are extensively used in operating systems for organizing file systems, managing process scheduling algorithms, or representing directories. Trees provide an efficient way to search, insert, and delete elements while maintaining hierarchical relationships between them.

Binary Search Trees

A binary search tree (BST) is a specific type of tree where each node has at most two children: a left child and a right child. BSTs are commonly used in operating systems for implementing efficient searching algorithms or maintaining ordered sets of elements. The binary search property allows for quick searching operations with time complexity proportional to the height of the tree.

AVL Trees

An AVL tree is a self-balancing binary search tree where the heights of the left and right subtrees differ by at most one. AVL trees are often used in operating systems for applications that require fast insertion, deletion, and searching operations while maintaining a balanced tree structure. The self-balancing property ensures optimal performance even with dynamic changes in the tree.

Hash Tables

Hash tables, also known as hash maps, are data structures that allow efficient insertion, deletion, and retrieval operations based on key-value pairs. In operating systems, hash tables are extensively used for tasks like process scheduling or file caching. Hash tables provide constant-time average-case complexity for these operations by utilizing a hashing function to map keys to array indices.


Data structures form the foundation of efficient data management in operating systems. Arrays, linked lists, trees (including binary search trees and AVL trees), and hash tables are just a few examples of the many data structures used. Each data structure has its strengths and weaknesses, making it suitable for specific tasks within an operating system.

Understanding these data structures is crucial for developers and system administrators involved in designing or optimizing operating systems. By leveraging the appropriate data structure based on the requirements, one can ensure optimal performance and efficient resource management within an operating system.

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