In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements, in which linear order is not given by their physical placement in memory. Instead, each element points to the next. It is a data structure consisting of a group of nodes which together represent a sequence. Under the simplest form, each node is composed of data and a reference (in other words, a link) to the next node in the sequence. This structure allows for efficient insertion or removal of elements from any position in the sequence during iteration. More complex variants add additional links, allowing efficient insertion or removal from arbitrary element references. In linked lists random access is not allowed. Arrays have better cache locality as compared to linked lists.

A linked list whose nodes contain two fields: an integer value and a link to the next node. The last node is linked to a terminator used to signify the end of the list. Linked lists are among the simplest and most common data structures. They can be used to implement several other common abstract data types, including lists, stacks, queues, associative arrays, and S-expressions, though it is not uncommon to implement the other data structures directly without using a list as the basis of implementation.

The principal benefit of a linked list over a conventional array is that the list elements can easily be inserted or removed without reallocation or reorganization of the entire structure because the data items need not be stored contiguously in memory or on disk, while an array has to be declared in the source code, before compiling and running the program. Linked lists allow insertion and removal of nodes at any point in the list, and can do so with a constant number of operations if the link previous to the link being added or removed is maintained during list traversal.

On the other hand, simple linked lists by themselves do not allow random access to the data, or any form of efficient indexing. Thus, many basic operations — such as obtaining the last node of the list (assuming that the last node is not maintained as separate node reference in the list structure), or finding a node that contains a given datum, or locating the place where a new node should be inserted — may require sequential scanning of most or all of the list elements. The advantages and disadvantages of using linked lists are given below.

(information from wikipedia)