Data Structures and Algorithms

Implementing Custom Data Structures

How can I implement my own custom data structures in C++?

Abstract art representing computer programming

Implementing custom data structures in C++ allows you to create specialized containers tailored to your specific needs. Here's a general approach to implementing a custom data structure:

  1. Define the Interface: Determine the operations and functionality your data structure should provide. This includes member functions for insertion, deletion, search, and any other relevant operations.
  2. Choose the Underlying Representation: Decide how you want to represent your data structure internally. This could be an array, a linked list, a hash table, or a combination of different data structures.
  3. Implement the Member Functions: Write the implementation of the member functions based on the chosen underlying representation. This involves defining the logic for each operation and how it interacts with the internal data.
  4. Handle Memory Management: If your data structure requires dynamic memory allocation (e.g., with new), make sure to properly manage the memory. This includes deallocating memory when it's no longer needed and implementing a destructor to clean up resources.
  5. Test and Optimize: Thoroughly test your custom data structure to ensure correctness and handle edge cases. Analyze the performance characteristics and optimize the implementation if necessary.

Here's an example of implementing a simple custom stack data structure using an array:

#include <iostream>
#include <stdexcept>

class Stack {
  int* data;
  int top;
  int capacity;

  Stack(int size) {
    data = new int[size];
    top = -1;
    capacity = size;

  ~Stack() { delete[] data; }

  void push(int value) {
    if (isFull()) {
      throw std::overflow_error("Stack is full");
    data[++top] = value;

  int pop() {
    if (isEmpty()) {
      throw std::underflow_error("Stack is empty");
    return data[top--];

  bool isEmpty() { return top == -1; }

  bool isFull() { return top == capacity - 1; }

int main() {
  Stack stack(5);

  std::cout << stack.pop() << '\n'; // Output: 30
  std::cout << stack.pop() << '\n'; // Output: 20
  std::cout << stack.pop() << '\n'; // Output: 10

In this example, the Stack class represents a stack data structure implemented using an array. The class provides member functions for pushing elements onto the stack, popping elements from the stack, and checking if the stack is empty or full. The destructor is responsible for deallocating the dynamically allocated memory.

Implementing custom data structures allows you to have fine-grained control over the behavior and performance characteristics of your data containers. It can be particularly useful when you have specific requirements that are not met by the standard library containers or when you need to optimize for certain operations or memory usage patterns.

Answers to questions are automatically generated and may not have been reviewed.

A computer programmer
Part of the course:

Professional C++

Comprehensive course covering advanced concepts, and how to use them on large-scale projects.

Free, unlimited access

This course includes:

  • 124 Lessons
  • 550+ Code Samples
  • 96% Positive Reviews
  • Regularly Updated
  • Help and FAQ
Free, Unlimited Access

Professional C++

Comprehensive course covering advanced concepts, and how to use them on large-scale projects.

Screenshot from Warhammer: Total War
Screenshot from Tomb Raider
Screenshot from Jedi: Fallen Order
Contact|Privacy Policy|Terms of Use
Copyright © 2024 - All Rights Reserved