Advantages and Disadvantages of Circular Linked List
Circular Linked List is one of the data structures that has simplified the programming concepts to a great extent. Linked Lists are commonly used data structures in low, middle, and high-level programming languages.
Each data structure, such as Array and the linked list, has its own benefits and applications. Knowing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Circular Linked List is important for programmers who intend to incorporate this data structure into their syntax to design, scale and optimize their programs.
About Circular Linked List
Usually, a linked list contains a null node (a node without reference) at the end, while a circular linked list is a special kind of list in which the last node points back to the first node, which is the start node. The start node acts as a reference point for the beginning of the list. If the start is equal to Null, then the Circular Linked List is empty.
- While traversing, you can begin at any node and traverse the list in any direction forward or backwards until reaching the same node where started.
- A circular linked list has no beginning and no end
- In circular linked list the last node address part holds the address of the first node hence forming a circular chain-like structure.
What are the Advantages of Linked List?
From traversal to implementation, there are different advantages of circular linked lists in modern-day programming concepts. Some are described below.
1. Dynamic data structure
Linked lists are a dynamic arrangement that can grow and shrink at runtime by allocating and flushing memory. For Linked lists, whether single, double, or even circular, it’s unnecessary to know the elements and allocate memory as it can be allocated as and when necessary.
2. Memory Utilization is one of the common advantages of Circular Linked List
Unlike linear data structures, circular linked lists let you use memory efficiently since the linked list's size increases or decreases dynamically, so there is no memory wastage. Moreover, there is no need to pre-allocate the memory.
Due to the ability to utilize memory and ease of data manipulation, linear data structures like stack and queues are often easily implemented using a linked list.
4. Ease of Data Manipulation
Inserting to and deleting from the circular linked list can be handled efficiently without having to restructure the list. There is no need to shift elements after the insertion or deletion of an element only the address present in the next pointer needs to be updated.
What are the Disadvantages of Circular Linked List?
Besides the benefits, there are also some Disadvantages of Circular Linked List, which may occur while using stacks as you have to manipulate data through PUSH and POP Operations.
1. Memory usage
Since the memory allocation in a circular linked list happens at runtime, it requires more memory than an array or linear data structures such as stacks. Because in a node, a pointer is also required to store the address of the next element, and it requires extra memory for itself.
2. Traversal is one of the major disadvantages of Circular Linked List
Since the last node in a circular linked list refers to the starting node, if not traversed carefully, then you could end up in an infinite loop. In a circular linked list, traversal is more time-consuming. Direct access to an element is not possible in a linked list as in an array by index.
3. Reverse Traversing
Circular linked lists are more complex as compared to singly or doubly-linked lists. Reverse traversing through a circular linked list is only possible when you have an extra amount of memory. For performing reverse traversing, extra memory is required for the back pointer. Hence, there is a wastage of memory.
4. Random Access
Random access is not possible in a linked list due to its dynamic memory allocation. Like singly and doubly lists, circular linked lists also don’t support direct accessing of elements. This turns out to be the biggest drawback of circular linked list.
Conclusion on Advantages and Disadvantages of Circular Linked List
From gaming to modern-day web browsers, Circular linked lists have their importance and applications. Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of Circular Linked List pretty much gives the idea about their efficient use in day-to-day life. The next time you press the back button in the browser window, or even press undo in MS Office, remember that’s only possible because of the circular linked list.