Do you have an idea about how many programming languages exist today? And which one is the best programming language for Data Structures? Pause for a moment and just take a wild guess.
Did you think in the 100’s? That was what I thought. Well, actually there are just as many programming languages as human languages!
So, it’s common to be confused about which programming language to learn and use for programming. Then the next doubt would be about the Top programming language to use for Data Structures and Algorithms.
This blog would help you overcome these confusions and help you decide on the language.
- Data structures are not language-specific. It is a framework you use while solving any problem.
- Knowing one language and the concepts thoroughly is more important than knowing multiple languages
- Practice regularly on platforms like CodeChef and HackEarth to master data structures and algorithms
- Developers who have a good understanding of Data Structures and Algorithms are considered better programmers.
Data structures and algorithms
Data Structures and Algorithms are two terms you might have come across many times if you have friends from the Computer Science department or you yourself are pursuing it. These jargons are often misinterpreted and seen with much disdain. But, if you really understand what they are, you would find it to be quite interesting.
Imagine that you have a thousand music CD’s with you. You can have the whole thing scattered on a table or you can stack them up in a cupboard. Now, picking your favourite CD from the stack would be easier than fumbling through the mess on the table right? That’s exactly what Data Structures are about.
Data Structure is all about how you store and arrange the data in the Computer. Based on how well you organise and store your data, you will be able to perform operations on data efficiently. In other words, how you store your data in the system decides how fast you can access and use the data.
Algorithm is a step by step procedure, which defines a set of instructions that have to be executed in a particular order to get desired output.
Even the instructions for cooking a new recipe where you follow step by step a set of procedures in a given sequence is an algorithm. You get the desired dish in the end just like how you get the desired output in programming.
In the context of Computer Science, according to Wikipedia, an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions for solving a class of problems or to perform computations.
Data structures in everyday life
Let us take a look into few situations where Data Structure is used:
Using Queue Data Structure for food Products in groceries
Food products have a fixed shelf life. Because of this, in grocery stores the food products that arrived first are always sold first. So, they always stack the food products such that the old ones can be retrieved easily.
This is nothing but FIFO method (First in First Out) where the first data added to the queue is processed first and the latest data is processed last.
Using Stack Data Structure for stack of trays in Cafeteria
In Cafeteria, the trays are placed one above the other. The last tray is found at the top and is the first one to be taken out.
This is the Stack concept called LIFO method (Last in First Out) where the last data added to the stack is processed first and the first data is processed last.
Using Graph Data Structure for navigation
When you are using the navigation in your car to find out places near you, it computes location from where you are to the places you might be interested in going.
The neighbouring location is found using Breadth-First Search (BSF) algorithm and graph data structure. BSF is one of the search algorithms for the graph data structure.
Languages for learning Data structures
Some of the popular languages used for data structures are:
All these languages are Object Oriented Programming (OOP) languages. You can choose any language with OOP features to learn and implement data structure.
Which language is best to start with?
It does not matter which language you start with or how many languages you know. All that matters is that you pick one language and master all the concepts in that language.
Data Structures and Algorithms are like the backbone of programming. So, it is better to know all the concepts thoroughly in one language and that would become your base language. You would be able to solve complex problems in that language and act as a framework.
Later, you can learn and code in multiple languages with ease because of a strong base.
Moreover, developers who have a good understanding of Data Structures and Algorithms are considered better programmers. They are usually paid higher as they can solve complex problems with Data Structures and Algorithms.
Why should you learn Data Structures and Algorithms?
If you are thinking of pursuing your career in the Software industry, it is important to thoroughly understand programming language basics – Data Structures and Algorithms.
This is because most of the technical interviews would involve solving questions using these concepts. Being able to solve complex problems indicates that the interview candidate has problem solving and logical skills.
Moreover, in every domain of Computer Science, you would be using the concepts of Data Structures and Algorithms to optimise your solutions.
Suppose you are working on a huge Computer Science projects such as building a search engine, you would be using Data Structure concepts such as Hash Table for storing data.
Here, the way you store data would matter a great deal because of how massive the project is. The search engine would only be good if it can access and process data fast. Nobody wants a search engine that is buffering!
Roadmap for learning Data Structures
You might then have the question as to what concepts to start with and how to go ahead. For this, I have curated the best way to learn Data Structure. You can choose any language but I suggest Python, C++ and Java as they are being widely used by developers.
- Learning the programming language (Python, C++, Java)
- Arrays and Structures
- Binary Trees
- Linked Lists (Singly, Doubly, Circular)
- Binary Search Trees
- Red-Black Trees
- Heaps/Priority Queues
- Skip Lists/Self-organising
- Hash Tables
Conclusion: The Best programming language for Data Structures
There is no best programming language for data structures. So, the way to go ahead would learn one language that has an Object-Oriented Programming feature and master the language. Then, you can learn about the different data structure concepts starting with arrays and structures.
After learning the syntax of each data structure concept, practising problems related to it is very important. This is because the data structure is the backbone for solving any complex problem. So, mastering the data structure concepts would help to apply the frameworks to bigger problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which language is best for Data Structures and Algorithms?
There is no such best language for Data structures and Algorithms. You can apply the concepts to problems using any language.
How do I master Data Structures and Algorithms?
Practice as many problems as possible and think of different ways to solve the same problem. Comparing the performance of different Data Structures and Algorithms for every problem would make you better. You can practice on platforms for coding such as Codechef, HackerEarth. These are platforms for competitive coding and they help sharpen your skills.
How long does it take to learn Data Structures?
It usually takes 4-6 months, but it takes it slow. Follow the roadmap in the blog and master concepts in each step before going to the next.
What are the top 10 programming languages for Data Structures?
Which language do I use after I have learnt data structures and a few languages?
It would depend totally on the project you are working on. Suppose you are working on an Android Development project, you would be majorly using Java. However, if you are thinking of becoming a data scientist, you’ll be using Python. But remember, having a sound understanding of Data Structures and Algorithms is most important for a great piece of code.