What is linear data structure?

A linear data structure is a type of data structure that stores data in a linear fashion, meaning that the data is organized in a sequence.

The most common examples of linear data structures are array, stack, hash tables and linked lists.

Linked list:

in a linked list, each element of the list is called a node, and each node contains a value and a reference to the next node in the list. Linked lists are commonly used to store a large number of items that may change frequently.


In an array, data is stored in a contiguous block of memory, with each element of the array being assigned an index. Arrays are commonly used to store a large number of similar items.


A stack is a sequential data structure that abides by the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle. This implies that the object that is appended last to the stack is the initial one to be eliminated. Stacks are frequently utilized to stockpile a group of objects that require to be monitored, like method calls in a software.


It is a data structure that uses the FIFO rule (First In-First Out). In this rule, the element which is added first will be removed first. There are two terms used in the queue front end and rear. The insertion operation performed at the back end is known ad enqueue, and the deletion operation performed at the front end is known as dequeue.

Hash Tables:

This can be implemented as linear or non-linear data structures too. The data structures consist of key-value pairs and data is retrieved using key value.

In summary, linear data structures are data structures that store data in a linear fashion and are commonly used to store a large number of similar items, items that may change frequently, or items that need to be kept track of.

The most important points in a linear data structure are:

  • In a linear data structure, data elements are arranged in a linear order where each and every element is attached to its previous and next adjacent.
  • A large amount of data is organized through every type of data structure.
  • In linear data structure, single level is involved.
  • In linear data structure, data elements can be traversed in a single run only.
  • In a linear data structure, memory is not utilized in an efficient way. Its examples are array, stack, queue, linked list, hash tables etc.
  • A Specific principle is followed by every data structure.
  • Linear data structures are mainly used in application software development.
  • Performance of Linear data structures is usually good for simple operations like Add/ remove.
  • Performance of Linear data structures is usually slower for searching operations.
  • The basic principle of the data structure should be followed even if any operations are carried out over the data structure.