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<Interview Questions: Loops in Linked Lists ⁄ >




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Linked lists are one of the most simple data structures and most aspiring programmers learn them early on. But for completeness' sake let's cover that ground.

A linked list is a sequence of nodes. Each node contains a piece of data and a reference to the next node in the list. Graphically it looks like this

Loopy Linked Lists

It's possible, though, that a node in a linked list might point to a previous element in the list. This is bad for many reasons, not the least of which is that any loop which iterates over all the nodes in the list by accessing the next node will never terminate.

So, it becomes important to detect when linked lists have loops. Here's what one such errant linked list looks like.



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