javatpoint - linkedlist in java




When to use LinkedList over ArrayList in Java? (20)

1) Search: ArrayList search operation is pretty fast compared to the LinkedList search operation. get(int index) in ArrayList gives the performance of O(1) while LinkedList performance is O(n).

Reason: ArrayList maintains an index based system for its elements as it uses array data structure implicitly which makes it faster for searching an element in the list. On the other side, LinkedList implements a doubly linked list which requires the traversal through all the elements for searching an element.

2) Deletion: LinkedList remove operation gives O(1) performance while ArrayList gives variable performance: O(n) in the worst case (while removing the first element) and O(1) in the best case (While removing the last element).

Conclusion: LinkedList element deletion is faster compared to ArrayList.

Reason: Each of LinkedList’s elements maintains two pointers (addresses), which point to both neighbor elements in the list. Hence removal only requires a change in the pointer location in the two neighbor nodes (elements) of the node which is going to be removed. While In ArrayList all the elements need to be shifted to fill out the space created by removed element.

3) Inserts Performance: LinkedList add method gives O(1) performance while ArrayList gives O(n) in the worst case. The reason is same as explained for remove.

4) Memory Overhead: ArrayList maintains indexes and element data while LinkedList maintains element data and two pointers for neighbor nodes hence the memory consumption is high in LinkedList comparatively.

There are few similarities between these classes which are as follows:

Both ArrayList and LinkedList are implementations of List interface. They both maintain the elements insertion order which means while displaying ArrayList and LinkedList elements the result set would be having the same order in which the elements got inserted into the List. Both these classes are non-synchronized and can be made synchronized explicitly by using Collections.synchronizedList method. The iterator and listIterator returned by these classes are fail-fast (if the list is structurally modified at any time after the iterator is created, in any way except through the iterator’s own remove or add methods, the iterator will throw a ConcurrentModificationException).

When to use LinkedList and when to use ArrayList?

1) As explained above the insert and remove operations give good performance (O(1)) in LinkedList compared to ArrayList(O(n)). Hence if there is a requirement of frequent addition and deletion in an application then LinkedList is the best choice.

2) Search (get method) operations are fast in ArrayList (O(1)) but not in LinkedList (O(n)) so If there are less add and remove operations and more search operations requirement, ArrayList would be your best bet.

I've always been one to simply use:

List<String> names = new ArrayList<>();

I use the interface as the type name for portability, so that when I ask questions such as these I can rework my code.

When should LinkedList be used over ArrayList and vice-versa?


ArrayList and LinkedList both implements List interface and their methods and results are almost identical. However there are few differences between them which make one better over another depending on the requirement.

ArrayList Vs LinkedList

1) Search: ArrayList search operation is pretty fast compared to the LinkedList search operation. get(int index) in ArrayList gives the performance of O(1) while LinkedList performance is O(n).

Reason: ArrayList maintains index based system for its elements as it uses array data structure implicitly which makes it faster for searching an element in the list. On the other side LinkedList implements doubly linked list which requires the traversal through all the elements for searching an element.

2) Deletion: LinkedList remove operation gives O(1) performance while ArrayList gives variable performance: O(n) in worst case (while removing first element) and O(1) in best case (While removing last element).

Conclusion: LinkedList element deletion is faster compared to ArrayList.

Reason: LinkedList’s each element maintains two pointers (addresses) which points to the both neighbor elements in the list. Hence removal only requires change in the pointer location in the two neighbor nodes (elements) of the node which is going to be removed. While In ArrayList all the elements need to be shifted to fill out the space created by removed element.

3) Inserts Performance: LinkedList add method gives O(1) performance while ArrayList gives O(n) in worst case. Reason is same as explained for remove.

4) Memory Overhead: ArrayList maintains indexes and element data while LinkedList maintains element data and two pointers for neighbor nodes

hence the memory consumption is high in LinkedList comparatively.

There are few similarities between these classes which are as follows:

  • Both ArrayList and LinkedList are implementation of List interface.
  • They both maintain the elements insertion order which means while displaying ArrayList and LinkedList elements the result set would be having the same order in which the elements got inserted into the List.
  • Both these classes are non-synchronized and can be made synchronized explicitly by using Collections.synchronizedList method.
  • The iterator and listIterator returned by these classes are fail-fast (if list is structurally modified at any time after the iterator is created, in any way except through the iterator’s own remove or add methods, the iterator will throw a ConcurrentModificationException).

When to use LinkedList and when to use ArrayList?

  • As explained above the insert and remove operations give good performance (O(1)) in LinkedList compared to ArrayList(O(n)).

    Hence if there is a requirement of frequent addition and deletion in application then LinkedList is a best choice.

  • Search (get method) operations are fast in Arraylist (O(1)) but not in LinkedList (O(n))

    so If there are less add and remove operations and more search operations requirement, ArrayList would be your best bet.


ArrayList is randomly accessible, while LinkedList is really cheap to expand and remove elements from. For most cases, ArrayList is fine.

Unless you've created large lists and measured a bottleneck, you'll probably never need to worry about the difference.


ArrayList is what you want. LinkedList is almost always a (performance) bug.

Why LinkedList sucks:

  • It uses lots of small memory objects, and therefore impacts performance across the process.
  • Lots of small objects are bad for cache-locality.
  • Any indexed operation requires a traversal, i.e. has O(n) performance. This is not obvious in the source code, leading to algorithms O(n) slower than if ArrayList was used.
  • Getting good performance is tricky.
  • Even when big-O performance is the same as ArrayList, it is probably going to be significantly slower anyway.
  • It's jarring to see LinkedList in source because it is probably the wrong choice.

Summary ArrayList with ArrayDeque are preferable in much more use-cases than LinkedList. If you're not sure — just start with ArrayList.


LinkedList and ArrayList are two different implementations of the List interface. LinkedList implements it with a doubly-linked list. ArrayList implements it with a dynamically re-sizing array.

As with standard linked list and array operations, the various methods will have different algorithmic runtimes.

For LinkedList<E>

  • get(int index) is O(n) (with n/4 steps on average)
  • add(E element) is O(1)
  • add(int index, E element) is O(n) (with n/4 steps on average), but O(1) when index = 0 <--- main benefit of LinkedList<E>
  • remove(int index) is O(n) (with n/4 steps on average)
  • Iterator.remove() is O(1). <--- main benefit of LinkedList<E>
  • ListIterator.add(E element) is O(1) This is one of the main benefits of LinkedList<E>

Note: Many of the operations need n/4 steps on average, constant number of steps in the best case (e.g. index = 0), and n/2 steps in worst case (middle of list)

For ArrayList<E>

  • get(int index) is O(1) <--- main benefit of ArrayList<E>
  • add(E element) is O(1) amortized, but O(n) worst-case since the array must be resized and copied
  • add(int index, E element) is O(n) (with n/2 steps on average)
  • remove(int index) is O(n) (with n/2 steps on average)
  • Iterator.remove() is O(n) (with n/2 steps on average)
  • ListIterator.add(E element) is O(n) (with n/2 steps on average)

Note: Many of the operations need n/2 steps on average, constant number of steps in the best case (end of list), n steps in the worst case (start of list)

LinkedList<E> allows for constant-time insertions or removals using iterators, but only sequential access of elements. In other words, you can walk the list forwards or backwards, but finding a position in the list takes time proportional to the size of the list. Javadoc says "operations that index into the list will traverse the list from the beginning or the end, whichever is closer", so those methods are O(n) (n/4 steps) on average, though O(1) for index = 0.

ArrayList<E>, on the other hand, allow fast random read access, so you can grab any element in constant time. But adding or removing from anywhere but the end requires shifting all the latter elements over, either to make an opening or fill the gap. Also, if you add more elements than the capacity of the underlying array, a new array (1.5 times the size) is allocated, and the old array is copied to the new one, so adding to an ArrayList is O(n) in the worst case but constant on average.

So depending on the operations you intend to do, you should choose the implementations accordingly. Iterating over either kind of List is practically equally cheap. (Iterating over an ArrayList is technically faster, but unless you're doing something really performance-sensitive, you shouldn't worry about this -- they're both constants.)

The main benefits of using a LinkedList arise when you re-use existing iterators to insert and remove elements. These operations can then be done in O(1) by changing the list locally only. In an array list, the remainder of the array needs to be moved (i.e. copied). On the other side, seeking in a LinkedList means following the links in O(n) (n/2 steps) for worst case, whereas in an ArrayList the desired position can be computed mathematically and accessed in O(1).

Another benefit of using a LinkedList arise when you add or remove from the head of the list, since those operations are O(1), while they are O(n) for ArrayList. Note that ArrayDeque may be a good alternative to LinkedList for adding and removing from the head, but it is not a List.

Also, if you have large lists, keep in mind that memory usage is also different. Each element of a LinkedList has more overhead since pointers to the next and previous elements are also stored. ArrayLists don't have this overhead. However, ArrayLists take up as much memory as is allocated for the capacity, regardless of whether elements have actually been added.

The default initial capacity of an ArrayList is pretty small (10 from Java 1.4 - 1.8). But since the underlying implementation is an array, the array must be resized if you add a lot of elements. To avoid the high cost of resizing when you know you're going to add a lot of elements, construct the ArrayList with a higher initial capacity.


TL;DR due to modern computer architecture, ArrayList will be significantly more efficient for nearly any possible use-case - and therefore LinkedList should be avoided except some very unique and extreme cases.


In theory, LinkedList has an O(1) for the add(E element)

Also adding an element in the mid of a list should be very efficient.

Practice is very different, as LinkedList is a Cache Hostile Data structure. From performance POV - there are very little cases where LinkedList could be better performing than the Cache-friendly ArrayList.

Here are results of a benchmark testing inserting elements in random locations. As you can see - the array list if much more efficient, although in theory each insert in the middle of the list will require "move" the n later elements of the array (lower values are better):

Working on a later generation hardware (bigger, more efficient caches) - the results are even more conclusive:

LinkedList takes much more time to accomplish the same job. source Source Code

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Mainly - that the nodes of the LinkedList are scattered randomly across the memory. RAM ("Random Access Memory") isn't really random and blocks of memory need to be fetched to cache. This operation takes time, and when such fetches happen frequently - the memory pages in the cache need to be replaced all the time -> Cache misses -> Cache is not efficient. ArrayList elements are stored on continuous memory - which is exactly what the modern CPU architecture is optimizing for.

  2. Secondary LinkedList required to hold back/forward pointers, which means 3 times the memory consumption per value stored compared to ArrayList.

DynamicIntArray, btw, is a custom ArrayList implementation holding Int (primitive type) and not Objects - hence all data is really stored adjacently - hence even more efficient.

A key elements to remember is that the cost of fetching memory block, is more significant than the cost accessing a single memory cell. That's why reader 1MB of sequential memory is up to x400 times faster than reading this amount of data from different blocks of memory:

Latency Comparison Numbers (~2012)
----------------------------------
L1 cache reference                           0.5 ns
Branch mispredict                            5   ns
L2 cache reference                           7   ns                      14x L1 cache
Mutex lock/unlock                           25   ns
Main memory reference                      100   ns                      20x L2 cache, 200x L1 cache
Compress 1K bytes with Zippy             3,000   ns        3 us
Send 1K bytes over 1 Gbps network       10,000   ns       10 us
Read 4K randomly from SSD*             150,000   ns      150 us          ~1GB/sec SSD
Read 1 MB sequentially from memory     250,000   ns      250 us
Round trip within same datacenter      500,000   ns      500 us
Read 1 MB sequentially from SSD*     1,000,000   ns    1,000 us    1 ms  ~1GB/sec SSD, 4X memory
Disk seek                           10,000,000   ns   10,000 us   10 ms  20x datacenter roundtrip
Read 1 MB sequentially from disk    20,000,000   ns   20,000 us   20 ms  80x memory, 20X SSD
Send packet CA->Netherlands->CA    150,000,000   ns  150,000 us  150 ms

Source: Latency Numbers Every Programmer Should Know

Just to make the point even clearer, please check the benchmark of adding elements to the beginning of the list. This is a use-case where, in-theory, the LinkedList should really shine, and ArrayList should present poor or even worse-case results:

Note: this is a benchmark of the C++ Std lib, but my previous experience shown the C++ and Java results are very similar. Source Code

Copying a sequential bulk of memory is an operation optimized by the modern CPUs - changing theory and actually making, again, ArrayList/Vector much more efficient


Credits: All benchmarks posted here are created by Kjell Hedström. Even more data can be found on his blog


An important feature of a linked list (which I didn't read in another answer) is the concatenation of two lists. With an array this is O(n) (+ overhead of some reallocations) with a linked list this is only O(1) or O(2) ;-)

Important: For Java its LinkedList this is not true! See Is there a fast concat method for linked list in Java?


ArrayList and LinkedList have their own pros and cons.

ArrayList uses contiguous memory address compared to LinkedList which uses pointers toward the next node. So when you want to look up an element in an ArrayList is faster than doing n iterations with LinkedList.

On the other hand, insertion and deletion in a LinkedList are much easier because you just have to change the pointers whereas an ArrayList implies the use of shift operation for any insertion or deletion.

If you have frequent retrieval operations in your app use an ArrayList. If you have frequent insertion and deletion use a LinkedList.


As someone who has been doing operational performance engineering on very large scale SOA web services for about a decade, I would prefer the behavior of LinkedList over ArrayList. While the steady-state throughput of LinkedList is worse and therefore might lead to buying more hardware -- the behavior of ArrayList under pressure could lead to apps in a cluster expanding their arrays in near synchronicity and for large array sizes could lead to lack of responsiveness in the app and an outage, while under pressure, which is catastrophic behavior.

Similarly, you can get better throughput in an app from the default throughput tenured garbage collector, but once you get java apps with 10GB heaps you can wind up locking up the app for 25 seconds during a Full GCs which causes timeouts and failures in SOA apps and blows your SLAs if it occurs too often. Even though the CMS collector takes more resources and does not achieve the same raw throughput, it is a much better choice because it has more predictable and smaller latency.

ArrayList is only a better choice for performance if all you mean by performance is throughput and you can ignore latency. In my experience at my job I cannot ignore worst-case latency.


Both remove() and insert() have a runtime efficiency of O(n) for both ArrayLists and LinkedLists. However, the reason behind the linear processing time comes from two very different reasons:

In an ArrayList, you get to the element in O(1), but actually removing or inserting something makes it O(n) because all the following elements need to be changed.

In a LinkedList, it takes O(n) to actually get to the desired element, because we have to start at the very beginning until we reach the desired index. Actually removing or inserting is constant, because we only have to change 1 reference for remove() and 2 references for insert().

Which of the two is faster for inserting and removing depends on where it happens. If we are closer to the beginning the LinkedList will be faster, because we have to go through relatively few elements. If we are closer to the end an ArrayList will be faster, because we get there in constant time and only have to change the few remaining elements that follow it. When done precisely in the middle the LinkedList will be faster because going through n elements is quicker than moving n values.

Bonus: While there is no way of making these two methods O(1) for an ArrayList, there actually is a way to do this in LinkedLists. Let's say we want to go through the entire List removing and inserting elements on our way. Usually, you would start from the very beginning for each element using the LinkedList, we could also "save" the current element we're working on with an Iterator. With the help of the Iterator, we get an O(1) efficiency for remove() and insert() when working in a LinkedList. Making it the only performance benefit I'm aware of where a LinkedList is always better than an ArrayList.


Here is the Big-O notation in both ArrayList and LinkedList and also CopyOnWrite-ArrayList:

ArrayList

get                 O(1)
add                 O(1)
contains            O(n)
next                O(1)
remove              O(n)
iterator.remove     O(n)

LinkedList

get                 O(n)
add                 O(1)
contains            O(n)
next                O(1)
remove              O(1)
iterator.remove     O(1)

CopyOnWrite-ArrayList

get                 O(1)
add                 O(n)
contains            O(n)
next                O(1)
remove              O(n)
iterator.remove     O(n)

Based on these you have to decide what to choose. :)


I have read the responses, but there is one scenario where I always use a LinkedList over an ArrayList that I want to share to hear opinions:

Every time I had a method that returns a list of data obtained from a DB I always use a LinkedList.

My rationale was that because it is impossible to know exactly how many results am I getting, there will be not memory wasted (as in ArrayList with the difference between the capacity and actual number of elements), and there would be no time wasted trying to duplicate the capacity.

As far a ArrayList, I agree that at least you should always use the constructor with the initial capacity, to minimize the duplication of the arrays as much as possible.


If your code has add(0) and remove(0), use a LinkedList and it's prettier addFirst() and removeFirst() methods. Otherwise, use ArrayList.

And of course, Guava's ImmutableList is your best friend.


In addition to the other good arguments above, you should notice ArrayList implements RandomAccess interface, while LinkedList implements Queue.

So, somehow they address slightly different problems, with difference of efficiency and behavior (see their list of methods).


It's an efficiency question. LinkedList is fast for adding and deleting elements, but slow to access a specific element. ArrayList is fast for accessing a specific element but can be slow to add to either end, and especially slow to delete in the middle.

Array vs ArrayList vs LinkedList vs Vector goes more in depth, as does Linked List.


Joshua Bloch, the author of LinkedList:

Does anyone actually use LinkedList? I wrote it, and I never use it.

Link: https://twitter.com/joshbloch/status/583813919019573248

I'm sorry for the answer for being not that informative as the other answers, but I thought it would be the most interesting and self-explanatory.


One of the tests I saw on here only conducts the test once. But what I have noticed is that you need to run these tests many times and eventually their times will converge. Basically the JVM needs to warm up. For my particular use case I needed to add/remove items to a last that grows to about 500 items. In my tests LinkedList came out faster, with linked LinkedList coming in around 50,000 NS and ArrayList coming in at around 90,000 NS... give or take. See the code below.

public static void main(String[] args) {
    List<Long> times = new ArrayList<>();
    for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++) {
        times.add(doIt());
    }
    System.out.println("avg = " + (times.stream().mapToLong(x -> x).average()));
}

static long doIt() {
    long start = System.nanoTime();
    List<Object> list = new LinkedList<>();
    //uncomment line below to test with ArrayList
    //list = new ArrayList<>();
    for (int i = 0; i < 500; i++) {
        list.add(i);
    }

    Iterator it = list.iterator();
    while (it.hasNext()) {
        it.next();
        it.remove();
    }
    long end = System.nanoTime();
    long diff = end - start;
    //uncomment to see the JVM warmup and get faster for the first few iterations
    //System.out.println(diff)
    return diff;
}

Operation get(i) in ArrayList is faster than LinkedList, because:
ArrayList: Resizable-array implementation of the List interface
LinkedList: Doubly-linked list implementation of the List and Deque interfaces

Operations that index into the list will traverse the list from the beginning or the end, whichever is closer to the specified index.


Thus far, nobody seems to have addressed the memory footprint of each of these lists besides the general consensus that a LinkedList is "lots more" than an ArrayList so I did some number crunching to demonstrate exactly how much both lists take up for N null references.

Since references are either 32 or 64 bits (even when null) on their relative systems, I have included 4 sets of data for 32 and 64 bit LinkedLists and ArrayLists.

Note: The sizes shown for the ArrayList lines are for trimmed lists - In practice, the capacity of the backing array in an ArrayList is generally larger than its current element count.

Note 2: (thanks BeeOnRope) As CompressedOops is default now from mid JDK6 and up, the values below for 64-bit machines will basically match their 32-bit counterparts, unless of course you specifically turn it off.



The result clearly shows that LinkedList is a whole lot more than ArrayList, especially with a very high element count. If memory is a factor, steer clear of LinkedLists.

The formulas I used follow, let me know if I have done anything wrong and I will fix it up. 'b' is either 4 or 8 for 32 or 64 bit systems, and 'n' is the number of elements. Note the reason for the mods is because all objects in java will take up a multiple of 8 bytes space regardless of whether it is all used or not.

ArrayList:

ArrayList object header + size integer + modCount integer + array reference + (array oject header + b * n) + MOD(array oject, 8) + MOD(ArrayList object, 8) == 8 + 4 + 4 + b + (12 + b * n) + MOD(12 + b * n, 8) + MOD(8 + 4 + 4 + b + (12 + b * n) + MOD(12 + b * n, 8), 8)

LinkedList:

LinkedList object header + size integer + modCount integer + reference to header + reference to footer + (node object overhead + reference to previous element + reference to next element + reference to element) * n) + MOD(node object, 8) * n + MOD(LinkedList object, 8) == 8 + 4 + 4 + 2 * b + (8 + 3 * b) * n + MOD(8 + 3 * b, 8) * n + MOD(8 + 4 + 4 + 2 * b + (8 + 3 * b) * n + MOD(8 + 3 * b, 8) * n, 8)

Yeah, I know, this is an ancient question, but I'll throw in my two cents:

LinkedList is almost always the wrong choice, performance-wise. There are some very specific algorithms where a LinkedList is called for, but those are very, very rare and the algorithm will usually specifically depend on LinkedList's ability to insert and delete elements in the middle of the list relatively quickly, once you've navigated there with a ListIterator.

There is one common use case in which LinkedList outperforms ArrayList: that of a queue. However, if your goal is performance, instead of LinkedList you should also consider using an ArrayBlockingQueue (if you can determine an upper bound on your queue size ahead of time, and can afford to allocate all the memory up front), or this CircularArrayList implementation. (Yes, it's from 2001, so you'll need to generify it, but I got comparable performance ratios to what's quoted in the article just now in a recent JVM)





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