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Best Way to Learn Data Structures and Algorithms

Posted on 
February 19, 2021
|
by 
Isha Chakraborty

Not one engineering college or university can overlook the significance of Data Structures and Algorithms in the curriculum. They play a vital role in technical interviews and hence, knowing the most important data structures and algorithms for interviews is key to nailing these interviews. 

If getting into FAANG+ companies has always been a dream of yours, you need to know the best way to learn data structures and algorithms and that’s exactly what we’ll be helping you with.

In this article, we will be looking at:

  • Relationship Between Data Structures and Algorithms
  • What is the Best Way to Learn Data Structures and Algorithms?
  • Where Should You Start Learning Data Structures and Algorithms?
  • Important Data Structures and Algorithms to Master

Relationship Between Data Structures and Algorithms

Generally speaking, a Data Structure is a collection of data organized in a particular way to help you perform computational operations. In contrast, an Algorithm is a set of logical instructions used to carry out a predefined task. 

The objective of any algorithm is to:

  1. Solve a specific problem
  2. And to solve it efficiently in terms of the time taken for execution.

An algorithm would need to process the data efficiently to complete its objective. Having structured or organized data helps the algorithm solve the problem faster. 

Thus both Data Structures and Algorithms are directly dependent on each other.

What is the Best Way to Learn Data Structure and Algorithms?

Mastering Data Structure & Algorithms is a step-by-step learning process. Before you start with your preparations, you should have a roadmap in mind. Here’s how you should structure and plan out your learning:

1. Start with learning an object-oriented language:

Pick a language you’re most comfortable with, such as C++, Java, or Python. You can also start with C if you’re facing difficulties with an OOPS language and then switch to C++ or Java. 

2. Beginning to learn about Data Structures:

Once you feel confident in your chosen programming language concepts like C, C++, Python, or Java, you can then start learning about Data Structures. There are mainly 3 parts of Data Structures you need to master:

Time and space complexity:

You need to learn how to write an efficient code with time & space complexity.

Arrays & Strings:

They are the building blocks of any Data Structure and need to be practiced thoroughly.

Linked lists, Stacks & Queues:

These form the foundation of binary trees, heaps, etc.

3. Learn some of the basics of Algorithms:

Once you’ve understood & mastered the basics of Data Structures, you can then move on to learning Algorithms. Try to build a strong understanding of the following topics in Algorithms:

  • Mathematical Logic
  • Searching & Sorting Algorithms
  • Pattern Matching & String Algorithms
  • Recursion 

Check 55+ Data Structure Interview Questions for your interview prep.

Where Should You Start Learning Data Structures & Algorithms?

If the terms Data Structures & Algorithms sound obscure & abstract to you, then it’s most likely you haven’t found the right method that’d help you understand the topics in an engaging manner. 

There are many places you can start learning Data Structures & Algorithms. Some of the free as well as paid options are listed below: 

  1. Data Structure Concepts in C
  2. Coursera- Algorithms Part I & II
  3. Data Structures in Java
  4. Udemy- Easy to Advanced Data Structures
  5. Interview Kickstart’s 2-Month Data Structure & Algorithms Masterclass

Important Data Structures & Algorithms to Master

  1. Arrays 
  2. Linked Lists
  3. Stacks & Queues
  4. Bit Operations
  5. Strings
  6. Hashing
  7. Trees
  8. Heaps
  9. Searching & Sorting
  10. Backtracking
  11. Dynamic programming
  12. Graphs

As you start getting better at practicing Data Structures & Algorithms problems, make sure you pick up on some real interview questions as well. Continue polishing and learning various techniques to solve the problems. 

Start practicing on paper. Solving on paper forces you to plan your code, making you less likely to make mistakes. Most importantly, it’s the perfect simulation of an actual whiteboard interview.

There you have it, with a detailed roadmap on the best way to learn Data Structure & Algorithms and important topics to master in the area. You’re well on your way to nail your next technical interview at your dream company.

FAQs on Data Structures and Algorithms 

Q1. Can algorithms be learned without data structures?
Learning data structures before you start with algorithms is the right way to go because then it comes easier to understand algorithms. Data Structures are easy to learn and include things like arrays, stacks, queues, etc.

Q2. Which language is best for data structures and algorithms?
None of these concepts are restricted to any programming language. Be it JavaScript, C, C++, Java or Python, you just need to be comfortable with the syntax of the language and you are good to go.

Q3. Are data structures and algorithms important for job interviews?
Most FAANG+ companies give a lot of importance to data structures and algorithms since they form the backbone of all technical operations and are important for solving various issues. 

Q4. What are the best resources to learn data structures and algorithms?
Some popular platforms that’ll help you learn data structures and algorithms are: Udacity, Interview Kickstart, CodingNinjas, Geeks for Geeks.

Q5. Which are the best data structures and algorithms course online?

There are a lot of options online. But some of the best ones are: Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization Program (Coursera), Data Structures and Algorithms Nanodegree Certification (Udacity), Data Structures and Algorithms Course (Interview Kickstart)

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