A linked list is a linear data structure (like arrays) where each element is a separate object. Each element (that is the node) of a list is comprising of two items – the data and a reference to the next node.

Why do we need Linked List:

  • Static arrays are structures whose size is fixed at compile time and therefore cannot be extended or reduced to fit the data set.
  • A dynamic array can be extended by doubling the size but there is overhead associated with the operation of copying old data and freeing the memory associated with the old data structure.
  • One potential problem of using arrays for storing data is that arrays require a contiguous block of memory which may not be available if the requested contiguous block is too large.
  • However, the advantages of using arrays are that each element in the array can be accessed very efficiently using an index.
  • However, for applications that can be better managed without using contiguous memory using Linked lists.

Types of Linked List:

  1. Singly Linked List:
    • In this type of linked list, every node stores address or reference of next node in the list and the last node has next address or reference as NULL.
  2. Doubly Linked List:
    • In this type of Linked list, there are two references associated with each node, One of the reference points to the next node and one to the previous node.
    • The advantage of this data structure is that we can traverse in both the directions and for deletion we don’t need to have explicit access to the previous node. 
  3. Circular Linked List:
    • Circular linked list is a linked list where all nodes are connected to form a circle. There is no NULL at the end.
    • A circular linked list can be a single circular linked list or doubly circular linked list. The advantage of this data structure is that any node can be made as starting node.
    • This is useful in the implementation of the circular queue in linked list.
  4. Multi-Linked List: 
    • It is a more general linked list with multiple links from nodes. 
    • for example, in storing and organizing a musical song database that can be iterated/viewed/played in chronological (insertion) order, in alphabetical (sorted) order, and in random order (a.k.a. “shuffle” mode).

Advantages over arrays:

  • Dynamic size
  • Ease of insertion/deletion

Drawbacks over arrays:

  • Random access is not allowed. We have to access elements sequentially starting from the first node. So we cannot do a binary search with linked lists.
  • The array can be accessed very efficiently using an index, as it requires a contiguous block of memory.
  • Extra memory space for a pointer is required with each element of the list.

The complexity of Linked List:


Time Complexit

Space Complexity





Data Structure 


Singly-Linked List

Θ(n) Θ(n) Θ(1) Θ(1) O(n) O(n) O(1) O(1) O(n)

Doubly-Linked List

Θ(n) Θ(n) Θ(1) Θ(1) O(n) O(n) O(1) O(1) O(n)



  • Accessing time of an element: O(n)
  • Search time of an element: O(n)
  • Insertion of an element: O(1) If we are at the position where we have to insert an element.
  • Deletion of an element: O(1) If we know the address of node previous the node to be deleted.

Linked List Representation: