The internet is a mix of data and information. It's a pot of millions of users that create new data daily. Regular users will often wonder how the internet stores all the latest and old information while catering to incoming ones. While the experts know the multiple storage technologies in place to make the internet smoother.
This is where blockchain technology and the linked list come into the discussion. These are only two of the many data storage technologies functioning around the world wide web. These two are often compared and closely intersected. This article will dive into the understanding of blockchain and linked lists.
The blockchain can simply be a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions using digital currency. It's backed up by a series of computers for storing data. Meanwhile, a linked list is a data structure connected through linear nodes.
Blockchain and linked lists are data-related items that tend to be compared. However, can the blockchain be considered a linked list? This article will list the similarities and differences between the two techniques. But first, here is an explanation of the items to better understand their data structures.
What is a blockchain?
As early mentioned, blockchain technology is a decentralized network that stores records of digital transactions. It's also known as an autonomous digital ledger that's powered by a series of connected computers. These data are stored inside blocks and are linked together using secure coding. The blocks contain a hash function with information on the transaction data and a timestamp.
The chain in blockchain talks about their security as these blocks are tightly connected together to make it impossible for any data manipulation. As blockchain technology does not belong to a central authority, it's typically managed by a peer-to-peer network. Therefore, it is safe to say that blockchain is a safe and secure data structure that can adequately store all the data it collects.
When blockchain was developed, so came the entrance of bitcoin. Bitcoin or cryptocurrency is digital money that isn't within central control. It runs almost exclusively within the blockchain, making it the first decentralized currency and fully functioning autonomous system.
How does blockchain work?
Imagine a series of squares or blocks, then link these together with a secure line or chain. This is the data structure of blockchain, wherein connected data are kept within those blocks. Each block consists of a memory of the previous block to ensure that transactions are safely stored for years to come and makes a note of the data travel of that particular block.
NFTs, for example, are published within the blockchain. Because blocks act as a ledger, the data of the items after they've been minted and issued is within that block that others may look at for reference. This is how an NFT item gets its unique data printed by storing it in the blockchain.
Blockchains are not linear data structures and may consist of forks throughout their links. These are usually temporary as the next block will still note the previous block in the chain.
There is more than one type of blockchain, and each has a specific cryptocurrency they cater to, such as Ethereum. But this is the most basic structure of blockchain.
What is a Linked List?
Like the blockchain network, data can be kept in a linked list. A linked list is a collection of data within linear nodes. The nodes together create a sequence within its linear data structure. While there are multiple kinds of a linked list as well, this is a focus on the form of a singly linked list.
The linked list is only one of the many linear data structures that can be used, such as arrays. Linked lists have a dynamic data structure and aren't kept in contiguous memory locations. The nodes' memories are often far apart.
An example of one of the numerous applications of a linked list is a webpage containing a previous and a next button. The same goes for a song list with a previous or next function, with both examples containing end pages.
A page with linear functions would often have a linked list structure, just like these pages or a music playlist. The first node would signify the beginning of the page or the data, while the last node will let you know that that is the end of the data information.
How does Linked list work?
The linked list data structure has one notable difference compared to the blockchain data structure. Unlike blockchains that use blocks as a term, a linked list uses nodes. Each node contains a pointer function that will input the address for the next node in the link. The nodes will continue on until it reaches the end of the association. Within this single link forms a sequence wherein the data in these nodes are connected.
Other linked lists are doubly linked lists, multiply linked lists, hash linking, circular linked lists, and others.
The linked list has the last node, which carries null data to signify the end of the list. Its previous node would have signaled that the next node would be the last in the linked list.
Blockchain vs. Linked List
While there are similarities wherein both a linked list and a blockchain data structure have linked lines or chains, they have a strong contrast with each other.
The main difference is that a linked list can easily be modified and changed through a series of codes. While a linked list can store data, it isn't permanent data, and users may be able to manipulate this.
Meanwhile, The blockchain is permanent. Its secure chains and the network do not allow any data manipulation. In that regard, a blockchain cannot be considered a linked list. It does have some similarities, but they are entirely different entities in structuring data.
Another of the main differences is that the blockchain is also a continuous chain wherein a user may still be able to locate the genesis block of the entire chain from its current chain. Every previous block is traceable by the users and thereby contains more operations.
To put it simply, one of the only similarities between blockchain and the linked list is that it can store data. However, the type of data is different as well. Blockchain is like a distributed ledger technology that keeps transactions and receipts that can't be exactly said about a linked list.
Since one of the features of a linked list is that you can move or delete certain nodes, they would not be allowed to have transaction data stored. And this makes it one of the key differences, as a linked list cannot be used a digital ledger.
A linked list, for example, may not be directly connected or can contribute to cryptocurrency or NFTs, whereas blockchain acts as a sort of ecosystem for the cryptocurrency community. These elements may have been born from the same technology, but both are used to make the internet a smart economy.
Both blockchain and linked lists are important parts of the internet. They have different applications that are used for their respective purposes. To argue them with the likes of blockchain vs. linked list won't lead to any affirmative conclusions because of their different functions.