Which Type of Data Structure Is Queue?


Scott Campbell

A queue is a type of data structure that follows the FIFO (First-In-First-Out) principle. It is similar to a queue of people waiting in line, where the first person who joined the line will be the first one to be served.

Basic Operations on a Queue

A queue typically supports the following operations:

  • Enqueue: Add an element to the end of the queue.
  • Dequeue: Remove an element from the front of the queue.
  • Peek: Get the element at the front of the queue without removing it.
  • IsEmpty: Check if the queue is empty.
  • IsFull: Check if the queue is full (applies to fixed-size queues).

The Queue Implementation

A queue can be implemented using various data structures, such as:

  • Array-based Queue:

    In this implementation, an array is used to store the elements of the queue. The front and rear pointers keep track of the indices of the first and last elements respectively. Enqueueing an element involves adding it at the rear, while dequeueing involves removing an element from the front. This implementation has a fixed size and may cause inefficiencies when resizing is required.

  • Singly Linked List-based Queue:

    In this implementation, each node in a singly linked list represents an element in the queue.

    The front pointer points to the first node, and enqueueing involves adding a new node at the end. Dequeueing involves removing the front node. This implementation allows for dynamic resizing and efficient enqueue and dequeue operations.

  • Doubly Linked List-based Queue:

    Similar to a singly linked list-based queue, this implementation uses a doubly linked list, where each node has references to both the previous and next nodes. The doubly linked list allows for efficient enqueue and dequeue operations as well as easy traversal in both directions.

Common Use Cases of Queues

Queues are widely used in various applications, including but not limited to:

  • Task Scheduling: Queues can be used to manage tasks or jobs that need to be processed in a specific order.
  • Breadth-First Search: Queues are used in graph traversals, like BFS, to process nodes in a specific order.
  • Buffering: Queues can be used to store data temporarily before it is processed or consumed by another part of the system.
  • Printers & Operating Systems: Printers and operating systems often use queues to manage print jobs or processes waiting for CPU time.

In conclusion, a queue is an essential data structure that follows the FIFO principle and supports operations such as enqueue, dequeue, peek, isEmpty, and isFull. It can be implemented using arrays or various types of linked lists. Understanding queues and their use cases can greatly enhance your ability to design efficient algorithms and data structures.

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