I usually use ArrayList when implement a List interface. Actually, we should use LinkedList in some cases to leverage benefit of each implementation.
So, what are differences between them?
ArrayList are two different implementations of the List interface.
LinkedListimplements it with a doubly-linked list.
ArrayList implements it with a dynamically re-sizing array.
As with standard linked list and array operations, the various methods will have different algorithmic runtimes.
get(int index) is O(n/4) average
add(E element) is O(1)
add(int index, E element) is O(n/4) average
but O(1) when
index = 0 <— main benefit of
remove(int index) is O(n/4) average
Iterator.remove() is O(1) <— main benefit of
ListIterator.add(E element) is O(1) <— main benefit of
Note: O(n/4) is average, O(1) best case (e.g. index = 0), O(n/2) worst case (middle of list)
get(int index) is O(1) <— main benefit of
add(E element) is O(1) amortized, but O(n) worst-case since the array must be resized and copied
add(int index, E element) is O(n/2) average
remove(int index) is O(n/2) average
Iterator.remove() is O(n/2) average
ListIterator.add(E element) is O(n/2) average
Note: O(n/2) is average, O(1) best case (end of list), O(n) worst case (start of list)
LinkedList<E> allows for constant-time insertions or removals using iterators, but only sequential access of elements. In other words, you can walk the list forwards or backwards, but finding a position in the list takes time proportional to the size of the list. Javadoc says “operations that index into the list will traverse the list from the beginning or the end, whichever is closer”, so those methods are O(n/4) on average, though O(1) for
index = 0.
ArrayList<E>, on the other hand, allow fast random read access, so you can grab any element in constant time. But adding or removing from anywhere but the end requires shifting all the latter elements over, either to make an opening or fill the gap. Also, if you add more elements than the capacity of the underlying array, a new array (1.5 times the size) is allocated, and the old array is copied to the new one, so adding to an
ArrayList is O(n) in the worst case but constant on average.
So depending on the operations you intend to do, you should choose the implementations accordingly. Iterating over either kind of List is practically equally cheap. (Iterating over an
ArrayList is technically faster, but unless you’re doing something really performance-sensitive, you shouldn’t worry about this — they’re both constants.)
The main benefits of using a
LinkedList arise when you re-use existing iterators to insert and remove elements. These operations can then be done in O(1) by changing the list locally only. In an array list, the remainder of the array needs to be moved (i.e. copied). On the other side, seeking in a
LinkedList means following the links in O(n), whereas in an
ArrayList the desired position can be computed mathematically and accessed in O(1).
Another benefit of using a
LinkedList arise when you add or remove from the head of the list, since those operations are O(1), while they are O(n) for
ArrayList. Note that
ArrayDeque may be a good alternative to
LinkedList for adding and removing from the head, but it is not a
Also, if you have large lists, keep in mind that memory usage is also different. Each element of a
LinkedList has more overhead since pointers to the next and previous elements are also stored.
ArrayLists don’t have this overhead. However,
ArrayLists take up as much memory as is allocated for the capacity, regardless of whether elements have actually been added.
The default initial capacity of an
ArrayList is pretty small (10 from Java 1.4 – 1.8). But since the underlying implementation is an array, the array must be resized if you add a lot of elements. To avoid the high cost of resizing when you know you’re going to add a lot of elements, construct the
ArrayList with a higher initial capacity.
It’s worth noting that Vector also implements the List interface and is almost identical to
ArrayList. The difference is that Vector is synchronized, so it is thread-safe. Because of this, it is also slightly slower than
ArrayList. So as far as I understand, most Java programmers avoid Vector in favor of
ArrayList since they will probably synchronize explicitly anyway if they care about that.