Singly Linked List, Its Advantage, Disadvantage and Application

  • Singly Linked List is a linear and dynamic data structure. It stores elements at non-contiguous memory locations.
  • It consists of a group of nodes in a sequence and each node has two fields, one contains data and the other contains the address of the next node.
  • The linked list does not allow direct access to the element. To access any particular element you have to start at the head and traverses each node until you get to that particular item.
  • The disadvantage of a linked list over an array is, it uses an extra 4 bytes (on 32-bit CPU) memory as compared to an array to store a reference to the next node.
  • In the linked list each element is considered as a separate object.

Advantage and Disadvantage of Linked Lists


  1. Flexible Size: They can grow or shrink as needed, making them super flexible.
  2. Easy Adds and Removes: It’s quick to add or take away elements, especially compared to arrays.
  3. Smart Memory Use: They only use as much memory as they need, which helps avoid waste.
  4. Great for Complex Structures: Linked lists can easily create and manage complex structures like trees and graphs.
  5. Steady Growth: They don’t need to be resized or moved to a bigger space as they grow.


  1. Extra Memory: Every element needs extra space for pointers, which can add up, especially with lots of small elements.
  2. Slower Searches: Finding an element by stepping through each one can take time.
  3. Complexity: Simple tasks can be more complicated compared to using arrays.
  4. Cache Performance: Since elements aren’t stored together, it might slow down performance because of how memory is accessed.
  5. Backtracking Difficulty: It’s tough to go backwards in singly linked lists, and while doubly linked lists fix this, they use even more memory.

Applications of Linked Lists

  1. Adapting Memory Needs: When you’re not sure how much memory you’ll need, linked lists are perfect. They’re great for managing memory in operating systems and programs that need to adjust memory on the fly.
  2. Building Data Types: Want to create lists, stacks, queues, or associative arrays? Linked lists make these easy to build and change, thanks to their ability to quickly add or remove items.
  3. Undoing Actions: In programs like text editors or design software, linked lists help you undo actions by keeping track of each change.
  4. Managing Hash Table Collisions: When different keys end up in the same slot of a hash table, linked lists can keep things organized without a hitch.
  5. Graphs Made Easy: For graphs, especially the less crowded ones, linked lists can keep track of which points connect to which, saving space.
  6. Handling Polynomials: In math software, linked lists represent polynomials, making it simpler to do calculations like adding or multiplying.
  7. Saving Space with Sparse Matrices: When you’ve got a matrix mostly filled with zeroes, linked lists can store just the non-zero values, making things much more compact.
  8. Flexible Strings: For text handling, where each character is a linked list node, this makes editing text smoother and more efficient.
  9. Navigating Images: Image viewer apps use linked lists for smooth scrolling through pictures, whether you’re moving forward or backward.
  10. Organizing Playlists: In music or video players, linked lists help manage your playlists, making it easy to add or skip tracks.