Data Structures – Stacks

title: Stacks


A stack is a First In Last Out (FILO) or Last In First Out (LIFO) linear data structure.

Imagine the way plates are stacked in a buffet restaurant. You can only pick plates from top otherwise the stack will collapse.

Some basics operations of stack are:

  1. Push() – Inserts the item on the top of the stack
  2. Pop() – Removes the top item (often times, it is a good idea to implement this function so that it returns the element it removed)
  3. isEmpty() – Check whether the stack is empty or not (returns a boolean)
  4. Size() – Return the number of items in the stack
  5. Top() – Return the item at the top of the stack without popping.
    (All the operations can be done in O(1) time – depending on the implementation)
    Implementation of a stack is possible using arrays, linked lists or other dynamic collections such as array lists (Java) or vectors (C++). When dealing with dynamic collections, it is important to insert items at the end to prevent shifting and maintain an O(1) runtime on each operation.

The following is a simple array implementation of the stack data structure with its most common operations.

//Stack implementation using array in C++ //You can also include<stack> and then use the C++ STL Library stack class. #include <bits/stdc++.h> using namespace std; class Stack { int t; int arr[MaxN]; public: Stack() { t = 0; } int size() { return t; } bool isEmpty() { return t < 1; } int top() { return arr[t]; } void push(int x) { if (++t >= MaxN) { cout << "Stack is full" << '\n'; return; } arr[t] = x; } void pop() { arr[t--] = 0; } }; int main() { Stack st; st.push(4); st.push(3); st.push(5); while (!st.isEmpty()) { cout << st.size() << ' ' << << '\n'; st.pop(); } return 0; }

Stack implementation using STL in C++

#include <iostream> #include <stack> using namespace std; int main() { stack<int> s; s.push(10); s.push(20); s.push(30); cout << "The size of the stack is: " << s.size() << endl; cout << "Top of the stack is: " << << endl; cout << "The stack is: " << endl; while (!s.empty()) { cout << << " "; s.pop(); } cout << endl; }

Using Arrays as Stacks

In some programming languages an array has stack functionality, allowing the developer to perform push and pop operations without the need for a custom stack data structure.

For example, an array in JavaScript has push and pop methods allowing one to easily implement stack functionality in an application.

stack = []; let i = 0; while(i < 5) stack.push(i++); while(stack.length) { stack.pop(); }

A List in Python can also perform stack functionality in an application. Instead of push, one can use the append method.

stack = [] for i in range(5): stack.append(i) while len(stack): stack.pop()


  • Turn recursion into loop.
  • Redo-Undo features.
  • Sudoku solver
  • Depth First Search.
  • Tree traversals
  • Infix expression -> Prefix/Postfix expression
  • Valid Parentheses

More Information:

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