Before learning about Data Structures, let’s take a look at the 700 programming languages in the world. But it is said that there are 50 programming languages that are most popular in the computer world and are used widely.
Most famous programming languages include before you preview Data Structures:
And there is a long list for this. Now, should we learn all of the programming languages? The answer is No, you need not.
Learning one language is sufficient to start a career as a software developer. Once you learn one programming language in-depth, then you can learn the other programming languages easily.
But in order to learn a programming language, you should know each in and out of the concepts, fundamentals used in the programming language.
Data Structure And Algorithm:
Data Structure and Algorithm contains two terms:
- Data Structure
Data Structure refers to the storage, arrangement, and organization of the data. And this algorithm is basically solving a problem step by step. To solve a problem step by step by arranging the data in an efficient manner.
In short, to write optimized code is the data structure and algorithm all about.
In other words, it would be right to say that data structure is the organization of data that enables us to perform some of the operations in an efficient manner.
An algorithm helps us to solve the same problem in milliseconds while other algorithms would take a much longer time to do so.
Importance of Data Structure:
Let’s talk about how important a data structure and algorithm is and what role it plays in a programming language? Storing as well as arranging the data in the disk space of the computer or memory storages the system is the data structure.
Now, why is this done? This is done because if data is stored in an efficient manner, then they can be retrieved and accessed easily, which will increase the performance.
Are these things really needed in real life?
Let’s understand with the help of an example.
Let’s say you have a book of 70000 pages, in which your roll no. is there.
Now, suppose you need to search your roll number. How will you actually do that?
There could be a number of ways to search the roll no in that 70,000 pages book, but we need to find the most efficient method out of them.
- You will start searching from the very beginning and will keep on finding it. But in this way, it will take too much time to find your roll no, if let’s say is on page 67000.
- To avoid this, you may use a Binary Search to find your roll number.
In this, you would go to page no. 35,000 and will see your roll no on that page, now if all the roll no. on the page are lesser than your roll no then you will go to page no. 35000+(35000/2).
By continuing this way, you would be able to find the roll no. in a much shorter span of time. This is one of the most efficient ways of searching.
Data Structure in day to day life:
Why are we learning Data Structure?
Do we really encounter all these in our daily lives?
There are multiple scenarios where we need these data structures and algorithms in our lives.
Some of them are:
Using Queue Data Structure as Boarding a Bus:
A queue is a data structure that is of linear type. In Queue, elements are arranged in the First In First Out manner which is abbreviated as FIFO.
Suppose, there are 10 passengers standing in a row to board the bus. The passenger who comes first would get boarded first on the bus.
This is shown through the picture shown below. Whenever there is a new passenger, it can come through the backside only which means he/she can board the bus in the last only.
Let’s understand it with the help of commands given to the printer.
Suppose there is a small organization, which has only one printer, and let’s say five commands are given to the printer to print the doc.
So, all 5 commands will be stored in the queue and they will be printed in FIFO order only. That means the second command will be printed only once the first command is executed.
Using Graph Data Structure For Google Maps and Social Media:
Google Map is one of the widely used and useful technologies developed by Google. According to Wikipedia, in 2020, over 1 billion people used google maps per month.
This google map uses Graph as the data Structure to predict the paths and the traffics shown over there.
A graph is considered to be an interconnected item and each item is basically a node and distance between two nodes is an edge. Social Media is also an example of a Graph data structure.
We use Facebook, Instagram, Tinder etc. All these social media use graphs. Every user on these social media can be considered as the node and when we connect through the node it is called edge.
The more we connect with people, the more edges will be there and eventually, it will form a network something like Facebook we use.
Using Stack Data Structure For Pile of Plates:
A stack is the Data Structure which is used and can be related to the piles of plates that we often see in our kitchens, in marriage functions etc. These follow the Last In First Out approach (LIFO).
It can be visualized how plates are put on over the other and the plate which we put at the last is the one which gets out first. Insertion and removal can be done from the top only.
Now, we talked about how a data structure and algorithm is useful and powerful in the programming field and in the day to day life as well.
Now, let’s talk about why 1 language is more than enough to start a career in the software development field.
Programming Language to start your Career:
It never matters how many languages you have gone through. The thing that matters is how much have you gone through in that language.
Better to know the concepts thoroughly used in the language than learning multiple languages. To start the career as a software developer, a person can pick any language like Java, C++, Python, Node.js etc. and can start his/her career.
The language must be Object-Oriented language. The reason behind picking Object Oriented language is that you can learn any other language easily.
It is very important to learn the fundamentals of the programming language thoroughly as these are things that can make a strong base of yours.
People who have sound knowledge of the fundamentals of data structures and algorithms are better programmers than others and are paid much higher.
Most of the technical interview focuses primarily on data structure and algorithm skills only. This is so because those who have good knowledge of Data Structure and Algorithm are good problem solvers and have logical minds.
Software developers are paid higher than people in different sectors and this is because they solve complex real-world problems because of their strong coding skills which ultimately is because of their strong Data Structure And Coding Skills.
They keep on solving problems which people think cannot be solved.
During my final year days, I used to apply for different software engineer positions, at that time I could find one common thing among those interviews, which was the Data Structure and Algorithm part.
More than 98% of companies search for the candidate who has sound knowledge of data structure and algorithms and this decides your pay as well.
Java Or Python : Which one is for you?
People often confuse the language to choose to start a career with as a software developer. Well, Java is a language that would never fade away and many big giants use java and would keep using it.
On the other hand, Python is the future and its development would be helpful in many areas without a doubt. Python somehow is more productive than Java. Writing code in Python is much easier and it provides rapid development of many of the applications.
One of the reasons behind so much the popularity of this language is that code is quite simpler and much easier to write and the length of the code is also quite short.
It is also better to learn the data structure and algorithm in the same language which you have chosen as your primary language.
Learning Multiple Programming Languages:
Well, there is no harm in learning multiple programming languages. But do not prefer this over Data Structure and Algorithm. Never do so.
Always pick one OOP language, try to grasp all the concepts of the language. Pick the data structure and algorithm with the same language.
Now, you may learn as many languages as you wish.
You may pick the languages there in the market. It is always important to focus on DSA, chances will be increased to get hired as a software developer in FANG companies if you acquire good DSA skills, but yes languages will be cherished.
Best Courses to learn Data Structure and Algorithm:
There could be plenty of courses in today’s digital era. But choosing the one wisely which is worth spending money and time is really important.
Let’s discuss some of the best courses available:
- Data Structure and Algorithm by Coding Ninjas:
Coding Ninjas offers one of the most complete courses of Data Structures and Algorithms in terms of content, money and learning, mentorship. I myself took the course of coding ninjas which is Data Structure and Algorithm in Java and found it really helpful. Hence, these are really nice courses.
- Learning data Structure and Algorithm in Python from Scratch:
The course can be accessed through Udemy easily. To start a course in Python from scratch, you may go for this course. As already discussed Python is going to dominate over the tech world for the next decade for sure.
- From 0 to 1: Data Structure and Algorithm in Java:
This course is delivered by some of the most experienced people from big company including Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. This course will take you from negative to industry-ready. Visualisation is very important to understand good levels of data structure and algorithms.
Learning just one programming language is more than sufficient if you master data structure and algorithm skills enough to solve real-world problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the concepts for data structures and algorithms are same for all languages. The only thing that changes is the syntax.
Yes, you can learn data structures and algorithms in Python.
Python is one of the official languages of Google in addition to other popular languages such as C++.
It depends on your use case. If you wish to go for competitive programming, pick Java. If you wish to go for development, learn Python.
After mastering one programming language, the next step is to use that language to implement data structures. Starting from linear data structures, move towards advanced topics but don’t just study topics theoretically. Simultaneous implementation is important. To get a defined path, taking an online course is recommended.
Most competitive programmers use C++ because of its efficiency for DSA. That being said, the language is just a medium and any language that you are affluent with is appropriate for you to implement DSA.
Practicing as many problems as you can find and that too consistently is the key to mastering DSA. Online platforms like CodeStudio, LeetCode, Codeforces have a pool of problems of all types, practicing which will help you master DSA.
On a generic note, mastering DSA will take around 3-4 months. A good foundation is important so do not rush through it, be patient and take your time because the pace of learning is different for every learner.
Python is considered to be a good language to start with if you are a beginner. Moreover, in terms of speed, there is no better language than Python. In the aspects of speed, convenience and syntax, python is a good language for Data Structures.
Algorithms are not written with the medium of programming languages. They are essentially written in a syntax which is considered to be the closest to Python due to Python’s closeness to the English language.
We discussed how important data structure and algorithms are to solve real-world problems and how effectively it is being used worldwide. But on the other hand, knowing more than one language is not a bad thing either.
If you have mastered data structure and algorithm skills good enough then definitely you may choose to learn some other language. You should keep yourself updated with the latest market trend definitely. For example: If you are a tech guy then according to the latest market trend you must know what Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is.
By Deepak Jain