ArrayList vs LinkedList in Java


ArrayList and LinkedList are two popular concrete implementations of List interface from Java’s popular Collection framework.

Being List implementations both ArrayList and LinkedList are ordered, index based and allows duplicate.

In this tutorial we will discuss what are the similarities and differences found between ArrayList and LinkedList.


  • Both ArrayList and LinkedList are implementations of List interface. Therefore we can pass either ArrayList or LinkedList if a method accepts List interface.
  • Both ArrayList and LinkedList are not synchronized, it means we cannot share them among multiple threads in a concurrent environment without external synchronization.
  • ArrayList and LinkedList both are ordered collection. So they maintain insertion order of elements, i.e., first element will be added on first position.
  • ArrayList and LinkedList both allow duplicates and null value.
  • Iterator of both LinkedList and ArrayList are fail-fast. It means they will throw ConcurrentModificationException if collection is modified structurally once Iterator is created.


ArrayList is backed by Array while LinkedList is backed by LinkedList. This will lead performance differences.

Getting elements from ArrayList with index is pretty fast. ArrayList provides O(1) performance for get(index) method but remove is costly in ArrayList as we need to rearrange all elements. On the Other hand LinkedList does not provide random or index based access and we need to iterate over linked list to retrieve any element which is of order O(n).

Apart from the List interface, LinkedList also implements Dequeue interface, which provides first in first out (FIFO) operations and several other Dequeue functions. LinkedList is also implemented as doubly linked list and for index based operation navigation can happen from either end.

Insertions are easy and fast in LinkedList as compared to ArrayList because there is no risk of resizing the array and copying content to new array if array gets full which makes adding into ArrayList of O(n) in worst case, while adding is O(1) operation in LinkedList in Java as it does not require any navigation. ArrayList also needs to update its index if we insert new element anywhere except at the end of ArrayList. Adding elements in ArrayList is O(1) operation if it does not trigger the re-size of the Array.

In order to remove an element from a particular index e.g. by calling remove(index), ArrayList performs at the rate of O(n) while LinkedList needs to traverse to that point which also makes it O(n/2), as it can traverse from either direction based upon proximity.

LinkedList has more memory overhead than ArrayList because in ArrayList each index only holds actual object (data) but in case of LinkedList each node holds both data and address of next and previous node.


Accessing elements are faster with ArrayList, because it is index based. But accessing elements in LinkedList are difficult. So in LinkedList access is slow because for accessing elements we need to navigate through the elements one by one.

But insertion and deletion is much faster with LinkedList, because if we know the node, just need to change the pointer before or after the node where we want to insert or which one we want to delete. Insertion and deletion is slow with ArrayList because, during these operations ArrayList need to adjust the indexes according to deletion or insertion if we are performing on middle indexes.

That’s all about ArrayList and LinkedList.

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