Data structures are a way of storing and retrieving data in an efficient manner. Data structures may be linear or non-linear depending on whether they store data sequentially or not. Linear data structures include arrays, stacks, queues, and linked lists.

Non-linear include trees and graphs. Each data structures contain information about the type of data it stores, the relationship between data and operations allowed on the data structure. Data Structures can also be categorized as Homogeneous and Non-Homogeneous depending on whether the data stored in a repository is of the same type or not. How data structures are compiled can also be a deciding factor for their categorization.

Before learning about the features of doubly linked list, let us understand what Doubly Linked List is. It is a linked data structure that consists of a set of sequentially linked records called nodes. Each node contains three fields: two link fields and one data field.

What is Linked List?

Linked list are linear data structures that has a collection of nodes connected to each other. It’s more like a chain structure. Each node consists the type of data it stores and a reference to the next node. Here are some points that make a linked list better than arrays.

A linked list is dynamic in nature, which means it can grow and shrink at runtime. This also ensures no memory wastage.

Insertion and deletion of nodes in a linked list are easier. Insertion and deletion in arrays require shifting of nodes.

Converting a linked list to other forms of non-linear data structures like trees is also possible.

Linked lists can be classified as Singly, Doubly and Circular Linked lists. A basic C++ structure of node in a singly linked list is shown below.

What is Doubly Linked List?

Doubly linked list or more commonly referred to as DLL is similar in node structure as that for a singly linked list except for the fact that they have an extra pointer which is used for back traversal on the list. It has two pointers namely next and previous. DLL can be considered as a variation of the singly linked list. Here one pointer (or reference) points to the next node and the other pointer points to the previous node.

The previous pointer for the first node points to NULL. A node structure in a doubly-linked list is as follows.

Many would have been wondering what would be the use of such data structure in real world. Well consider the following situations.

A music player which has next and previous buttons.

Undo Redo operations

The Browser cache which allows you to move front and back between pages is also a good example of doubly linked list.

LRU cache

Most Recently Used is also an example of DLL.

A deck of cards in a game is a classic example of application of DLL. It is also used to store state of game during play.

The entire above mentioned scenario makes use of doubly linked list. But why are we using DLL for all the above mentioned cases. Well here are some key points to note while learning DLL.

Just like Singly Linked lists they are easy to implement.

Allow traversal in both directions.

Deletion of nodes is easier as compared to singly linked lists.

Can allocate or de-allocate memory easily when required during execution.

Now we will move on to how and what operations are performed on doubly linked lists.

Insertion

Inserting a node at the front: Inserting a new node means making the head point to the new node and breaking its link with the previous node. We also need to point the previous pointer of the new node to NULL and previously new node previous pointer to a new node.

2. Inserting a node at the end: While inserting a node at the end of the linked list we need to do the following:

Make the next pointer of New Node to NULL.

Make the previous pointer of the New Node to point the previous last node.

Make the previously last node next pointer point to New Node.

3. Inserting Node in between: This is more complicated than the above insertion process and its implementation must be done carefully. In real-world, this functionality is mostly used. In this process, the new node comes in between two nodes. Let’s denote the nodes N1 and N2.

Here the New Node N will be after N1 and before N2. Now we need to do the following:

Make the next of N1 point to New Node and previous of New Node to N1.

Point Next of New Node to N2 and previous of N2 to New Node.

Deletion

Deletion also involves three different types namely deletion from the front, deletion in between, and deletion at the end. All these steps have a common algorithm. Obviously, the implementation depends on the syntax of the language but the algorithm remains the same. While deleting a node in a Doubly Linked list we first re-position the pointer pointing to that particular node so that the previous and after nodes do not have any connection to the node to be deleted. Follow the below-mentioned steps to delete a node in a doubly-linked list

If the first, node is to be deleted then make head point to next of deleted node. Simply point head->next= deleted Node->next. We also need to make previous next node as NULL.

If the last, node is to be deleted the next pointer of the previous node must be set to NULL.

If an in-between node is to be deleted simply connect next and previous node of the node. This point will be more clear from the below diagram.

The above diagram shows how node B is deleted and nodes A and C are connected. The implementation must be done very precisely specially while changing the pointers.

Searching

Searching in a doubly-linked list is similar to that of singly list. We need to traverse the entire list and search for target value. If the value of a node equals the target node we simply print that value and return 1 indicating value is present in linked list else return 0 indicating the absence of the target node. A simple C++ implementation is shown below:

Reverse DLL

This operation also makes a doubly linked list very useful for practical purposes. We have already used two pointers in a DLL node so that the previous node can be accessed easily. Reversing a Doubly Linked List is fairly easy as compared to a singly linked list. All we need to do is swap the two pointers for the entire list and also swap the head and tail pointers.

A C++ code snippet for the same is given below. Alert! Do read the comments for better understanding.

Features of Doubly Linked List

The features of doubly linked lists are as follows:

Each node contains two pointers, one to the node before it and the other to the node after it.

It is possible to move forward and backwards through the linked list.

The previous pointer of the first node points to null, and the next pointer of the last node points to null.

At the start and the end of the list, insertions and deletions can be made continuously.

The complexity of access and search operations is O(n), where n is the number of elements in the list.

Doubly linked lists can be visited in both ways, making them more flexible than singly-linked lists.

Advantages of Doubly Linked List

The advantages of doubly linked lists are as follows:

Doubly-linked lists can be traversed in both ways, whereas singly-linked lists cannot be navigated in either direction. As a result, they become flexible and have a greater range of uses.

Doubly linked lists can be visited in both ways, making them more versatile than singly-linked lists.

Inserting and removing nodes from doubly linked lists can be done at both the list's beginning and end in constant time. This is due to the ease with which the node's previous pointer that is being added or removed may be obtained.

Doubly linked lists are simple to reverse by just moving through the list in reverse order.

Disadvantages of Doubly Linked List

Like the two sides of a coin, every data structure has its own pros and cons. Disadvantages of DLL include the following

Extra memory for an extra pointer, i.e. previous pointer. Hence memory space consumed is more than the singly linked list.

Implementation can be hectic. Need to take care of the allocation of pointers while implementing functions for different operations and thereby making a performance bottleneck.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the features of the linked list?

A linked list is a data structure in which several nodes are interconnected with the last node connected to NULL. These nodes are not located at contiguous memory locations but are rather located in different places in the memory. It does away with the limitations of arrays where the array wasn’t able to show dynamism.

What are the applications of a doubly linked list?

It is used to work with data where front and back data navigation is required, implement undo-redo features, construct most recently used and least recently used cache and construct different data structures such as hash tables, stacks etc. and is used to maintain thread scheduler in operating systems.

What is true about a doubly linked list?

A doubly linked list might be linear or circular.

What is a doubly-linked list in data structure?

A doubly linked list is a special linked list data structure where each note is connected to both the node after it and the node before it.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a doubly linked list?

The advantages of a doubly linked list include – it can be reversed easily, nodes can be accessed in both directions and easy deletion of nodes. The disadvantages of a doubly linked list include – it takes up extra space.

What are the features of circular linked list and double linked list?

A Circular Linked List is a sequence of nodes, where the last node points back to the first, forming a loop. It enables continuous traversal, without a defined start or end. A Double Linked List, on the other hand, has nodes with references to both the next and previous node, allowing bidirectional traversal.

Conclusion

In this article, we extensively discussed the features of doubly linked list. Doubly-linked lists provide benefits over single-linked lists. They make it simpler to add and remove nodes. They are also simpler to reverse because the list may be traversed in reverse order using the previous pointers.

Doubly linked lists also have some drawbacks. They use more memory than singly-linked lists because every node contains an additional pointer. They are complex to implement because when nodes are added or removed, previous pointers need to be changed.

Overall, doubly linked lists are a flexible and effective data structure with a wide range of uses.