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What are Linked Lists?

What are Linked Lists

What is a linked list?

A linked list is a linear data structure where each element is a separate object. Each element is called a node and has two main items: its data and a tail (i.e. a reference to the next node). So a list will go from tail to tail until, eventually, we reach a null value and know we’ve reached the end.

A linked list is a dynamic data structure. The number of nodes in a list is not fixed and can grow and shrink on demand. Any application which has to deal with an unknown number of objects will need to use a linked list.

One disadvantage of a linked list against an array is that it does not allow direct access to the individual elements. If you want to access a particular item then you have to start at the head and follow the references until you get to that item.

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Types Of Linked List

There are mainly (although not only) two different types of linked list

  • Singly Linked List: The linked list as described in the above section
  • Doubly Linked List: Essentially the same except we now have three items in each node: data, a tail and a head

In a doubly-linked list, the head points to the previous node and the tail points to the next node. With this, we can traverse the list in both directions.