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Array vs. Linked List: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on February 4, 2024
An array is a collection of elements stored at contiguous memory locations, while a linked list consists of nodes, each containing data and a reference to the next node, stored non-contiguously.

Key Differences

Array is a data structure where elements are stored in contiguous memory locations, enabling efficient access using indices. On the other hand, a linked list is a collection of elements, called nodes, where each node is linked to the next node via pointers, and these nodes may not be stored in contiguous memory.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024
In an array, accessing an element by its index is fast because of the contiguous memory allocation, which allows for quick computation of an element's address. However, in a linked list, each element (node) must be accessed sequentially from the beginning, which can be slower for large lists as it requires traversing the list.
Huma Saeed
Feb 04, 2024
Arrays have a fixed size, meaning their size must be declared at the time of creation and cannot be changed dynamically. Conversely, a linked list offers dynamic sizing, as nodes can be easily added or removed without reallocating the entire list.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024
When it comes to insertion and deletion operations, arrays are less efficient, especially for operations at or near the beginning of the array, as they often require shifting elements. In contrast, linked lists allow for more efficient insertions and deletions, as only the pointers in the nodes need to be updated.
Janet White
Feb 04, 2024
Arrays can be more memory-efficient if the number of elements is known in advance and remains constant, as there is no overhead for storing pointers. On the flip side, linked lists require extra memory for storing pointers alongside the actual data, but they offer greater flexibility in memory usage due to their dynamic nature.
Janet White
Feb 04, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Memory Allocation

Contiguous memory blocks
Non-contiguous nodes
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Access Time

Constant time with index
Linear time via traversal
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Size Flexibility

Fixed size
Dynamic resizing
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Insertion/Deletion Efficiency

Less efficient
More efficient
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Memory Overhead

No extra for pointers
Extra memory for pointers
Harlon Moss
Feb 04, 2024
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Array and Linked List Definitions

Array

A collection of items stored at contiguous memory locations.
The array contained 10 integers, each representing a different temperature.
Sara Rehman
Jan 24, 2024

Linked List

A collection of nodes where each node points to the next node.
The linked list was used to store a dynamic number of user inputs.
Sara Rehman
Jan 24, 2024

Array

A data structure with elements identified by index numbers.
He accessed the fifth element of the array to update its value.
Huma Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Linked List

A sequence of elements, each connected to the next by a pointer.
He traversed the linked list to find the node containing the target value.
Sara Rehman
Jan 24, 2024

Array

An ordered series of similar items.
The color array was used to store different shades for the graphic.
Sara Rehman
Jan 24, 2024

Linked List

A chain of nodes, each holding data and a link to the next node.
The linked list efficiently managed the inventory items, each represented by a node.
Sara Rehman
Jan 24, 2024

Array

A fixed-size sequence of elements of the same type.
The array of booleans indicated the availability of each item.
Janet White
Jan 24, 2024

Linked List

A dynamic data structure allowing efficient insertions and deletions.
Adding a new element to the linked list was done without rearranging the entire structure.
Sara Rehman
Jan 24, 2024

Array

A structure for storing multiple items in a single variable.
She created an array to hold all the names of the participants.
Janet White
Jan 24, 2024

Linked List

A non-contiguous structure of nodes with data and references to other nodes.
Each node in the linked list contained a data part and a pointer to the next node.
Harlon Moss
Jan 24, 2024

Array

To set out for display or use; place in an orderly arrangement
Arrayed the whole regiment on the parade ground.
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

Array

A rectangular arrangement of quantities in rows and columns, as in a matrix.
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

Array

Numerical data linearly ordered by magnitude.
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

Array

(Computers) A group of memory elements accessed by one or more indices.
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

Array

(programming) Any of various data structures designed to hold multiple elements of the same type; especially, a data structure that holds these elements in adjacent memory locations so that they may be retrieved using numeric indices.
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

Array

An orderly arrangement;
An array of troops in battle order
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

Array

An arrangement of aerials spaced to give desired directional characteristics
Sara Rehman
Jan 23, 2024

FAQs

Are arrays better for accessing data or modifying data?

Better for accessing data due to direct index access.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 04, 2024

What is the main advantage of using an array?

Fast access to elements by their index.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Can arrays grow in size dynamically?

No, arrays have a fixed size determined at creation.
Huma Saeed
Feb 04, 2024

Do linked lists use memory more efficiently for dynamic data?

Yes, as they allocate memory as needed.
Harlon Moss
Feb 04, 2024

Are arrays or linked lists better for large datasets?

Arrays for large, stable datasets; linked lists for dynamic datasets.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Can you insert elements in the middle of an array?

Yes, but it's inefficient as it requires shifting other elements.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 04, 2024

What is array indexing?

The process of accessing elements using their position number.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 04, 2024

Is memory allocation in arrays more efficient than linked lists?

Yes, if the number of elements is known and constant.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

How are elements in a linked list accessed?

By sequentially traversing from the start or another node.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Can linked lists have nodes in non-sequential memory locations?

Yes, nodes can be anywhere in memory.
Harlon Moss
Feb 04, 2024

Do linked lists have a performance advantage over arrays in certain operations?

Yes, in insertions and deletions, especially at the beginning or middle.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

What type of data is best stored in a linked list?

Data with frequent insertions and deletions.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Are arrays or linked lists more commonly used?

Arrays are more common due to their simplicity and direct access feature.
Harlon Moss
Feb 04, 2024

What makes linked lists more flexible than arrays?

Their ability to dynamically add or remove elements.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Can linked lists be bidirectional?

Yes, in the form of doubly linked lists.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

Can you store different data types in arrays and linked lists?

Typically, arrays store similar types, while linked lists can store varied data types.
Janet White
Feb 04, 2024

How does resizing affect array and linked list performance?

Resizing an array is costly, while linked lists handle resizing efficiently.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

How does memory allocation differ in arrays and linked lists?

Arrays allocate a block of contiguous memory, while linked lists allocate memory per node.
Harlon Moss
Feb 04, 2024

Is traversal faster in arrays or linked lists?

Faster in arrays due to direct index access.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024

What is a node in a linked list?

A basic unit containing data and a reference to the next (and sometimes previous) node.
Sara Rehman
Feb 04, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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