Data structures are used in every software system for efficient organization and management of data. There are different types of data structures that store data in different specific manners, such as arrays, stacks, queues, linked lists, trees, graphs, hash tables, etc. Although data structure is an important skill to master, still many programmers struggle to master it. Therefore, this blog is focusing on 5 key strategies that will help you get good at data structures. So, let’s jump to those strategies right away.
If you have a solid grip on fundamentals or basics of anything, you can master it in a short time period. The same applies to the data structure. Although you might know the basic concepts of data structures, still there might be many fundamentals that you are unclear about. For example, if you have learned tree data structure, then you should be clear about all the key terminologies related to the tree data structure, such as sibling, right subtree, left subtree, branch, etc.
So, the first strategy is to clear your fundamentals around the data structures you are mastering. Learn and implement their basic functionality, make short notes for quick revision in the future, and explore more about those terminologies on the Internet.
There is a perception that the more problems you solve, the more you master data structures. However, that’s not always right. You have to focus on a few sets of problems and go for “depth” understanding.
When you analyze a problem in depth, you will notice that you can code it with the right syntax in less time. Moreover, your code will be much cleaner and even be used for a similar new problem afterward. This way, once you deploy depth-based understanding practice, you will start seeing patterns in problems, which means you need to do less coding and can solve the problem in minimal time.
When you start practicing depth-based problem solving and start witnessing patterns, you can then isolate that technique and practice it again and again to master it. This way, when a similar problem comes in the future, you will be well-experienced to complete it ahead of time.
You can isolate many techniques, such as the use of binary search, hash table + linked list combination, recursion + memoization, etc. This way, as you start isolating and mastering techniques with news problems that you solve continuously, you are actually becoming a master of those techniques.
4.Emphasis on Efficient Ways
A single problem can be solved in different ways by different individuals. For example, one person might use the linear search algorithm to solve a problem, while the other person might use the binary search algorithm to solve the same problem. Now both have solved the problem, but the approach is different. The first person has used an easy approach, while the second person has used an efficient approach to solve the problem.
To emphasize efficient ways of tackling problems, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Start solving problems on paper or whiteboard, as it will force you to plan before code, improve your language syntax, enhance your data structure usage, increase comprehensive understanding, and improve overall efficiency.
Data structure learning is not a one-time thing. In order to get good at it, you have to deploy a model of continuous revision, continuous practice, and participation. Keep revising your concepts and participate in competitive programming communities, such as CodeChef, Leetcode, and similar others.
The participation will elevate your problem-solving skills by letting you understand the problem statement, pick the right data structure, find mistakes in your syntax, etc. This way, not just you will uplift your skills, but you will also become more used to such online coding platforms.
Data structures are applied to manage huge amounts of data for almost everything, such as operating systems, artificial intelligence, database management systems, compiler design, etc. Therefore, it is crucial to have a solid grip on data structure to have a strong skill to showcase. The above-listed 5 strategies are found to be effective in improving the skills around data structures. So, practice those strategies and upscale your skills.
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