Difference between Array and Linked List


Both Linked List and Array store linear data of similar type, but an array believes in consuming contiguous memory locations allocated at compile-time.

Linked List vs. Array

Array refers to a data type that is broadly implemented as a default type in almost all modern programming languages. It is generally used to store data of a similar type. But there are numerous cases. Like the one where it is impossible to know the quantity of data to store. For which more sophisticated data structures require. And one such data structure is a linked list. Let’s develop a comprehensive understanding of how the array is different from the Linked list.

  • The array represents the collection of elements of similar data types. On the other hand. Linked List displays an ordered collection of elements of the same type. Associated with each other using pointers.

  • The array shows support for Random Access. This means elements can easy accesse directly using their index. Such as arr[0] for 1st element, arr[6] for 7th element, etc. Therefore, retrieving elements in an array is fast with a constant time involvedness of O (1).

  • Linked List shows support for Sequential Access. This means if we want to access any element/node in a linked list. It will be compulsory to traverse the complete linked list up to that element sequentially. Therefore, to access an nth element of a linked list. The time complexity is O(n) is a bit slow.  In an array, elements will store in a contiguous memory location or a very consecutive manner in the memory. However, in a linked list, all the new elements can store anywhere in the memory.

Points to Ponder

  • Address of the memory location can allocate to the new element. Which store in the previous node of the linked list. Therefore it forms a link between the two nodes/elements. In array, Insertion and Deletion operation consumes a lot of time, as the memory locations are consecutive and fixed.

  • While handling the linked list. It is mandatory to understand that a new element store at the first free and available memory location. There must be a single overhead step of storing the address of memory location in the previous node of the linked list. The process of Insertion and Deletion is fast in the linked list.

  • Memory will allocate as soon as the array declares at compile time. It’s also recognized as Static Memory Allocation. On the other hand. In the case of a linked list, Memory will be allocated at runtime as and when a new node add. It recognizes as a Dynamic Memory Allocation.

  • Each element will be independent in an array, and it will be possible to have their access using its index value. In the case of a linked list, each element points to the next, previous, or maybe both nodes.

  • Arrays can be single-dimensional. Two-dimensional. Or multidimensional. But the Linked list is only a Linear(Singly), Doubly linked list of Circular linked lists.

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