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Data Structures: Circular Linked List ( with C Program source code, tutorial and MCQ Quiz)

Some Important Linear Data Structures- at a glance

To go through the C program / source-code, scroll down to the end of this page

Circular Linked List
Circular linked list is a more complicated linked data structure. In this the elements can be placed
anywhere in the heap memory unlike array which uses contiguous locations. Nodes in a linked
list are linked together using a next field, which stores the address of the next node in the next
field of the previous node i.e. each node of the list refers to its successor and the last node points
back to the first node unlike singly linked list. It has a dynamic size, which can be determined
only at run time.

Related Tutorials :

 Single Linked List

 A self referential data structure. A list of elements, with a head and a tail; each element points to another of its own kind.

 Double Linked List

 A self referential data structure. A list of elements, with a head and a tail; each element points to another of its own kind in front of it, as well as another of its own kind, which happens to be behind it in the sequence. 

 Circular Linked List

 Linked list with no head and tail - elements point to each other in a circular fashion.


1. The advantage is that we no longer need both a head and tail variable to keep track of
the list. Even if only a single variable is used, both the first and the last list elements can
be found in constant time. Also, for implementing queues we will only need one pointer
namely tail, to locate both head and tail.
2. The disadvantage is that the algorithms have become more complicated.

Basic Operations on a Circular Linked List

Insert – Inserts a new element at the end of the list.
Delete – Deletes any node from the list.
Find – Finds any node in the list.
Print – Prints the list.

Complete tutorial with examples (Source code and MCQ Quiz below this)


Circular Linked List - C Program source code

typedef struct Node
        int data;
        struct Node *next;
void insert(node *pointer, int data)
        node *start = pointer;
        /* Iterate through the list till we encounter the last node.*/
                pointer = pointer -> next;
        /* Allocate memory for the new node and put data in it.*/
        pointer->next = (node *)malloc(sizeof(node));
        pointer = pointer->next;
        pointer->data = data;
        pointer->next = start;
int find(node *pointer, int key)
        node *start = pointer;
        pointer =  pointer -> next; //First node is dummy node.
        /* Iterate through the entire linked list and search for the key. */
                if(pointer->data == key) //key is found.
                        return 1;
                pointer = pointer -> next;//Search in the next node.
        /*Key is not found */
        return 0;
void delete(node *pointer, int data)
        node *start = pointer;
        /* Go to the node for which the node next to it has to be deleted */
        while(pointer->next!=start && (pointer->next)->data != data)
                pointer = pointer -> next;
                printf("Element %d is not present in the list\n",data);
        /* Now pointer points to a node and the node next to it has to be removed */
        node *temp;
        temp = pointer -> next;
        /*temp points to the node which has to be removed*/
        pointer->next = temp->next;
        /*We removed the node which is next to the pointer (which is also temp) */
        /* Beacuse we deleted the node, we no longer require the memory used for it .
           free() will deallocate the memory.

void print(node *start,node *pointer)
        printf("%d ",pointer->data);
int main()
        /* start always points to the first node of the linked list.
           temp is used to point to the last node of the linked list.*/

        node *start,*temp;
        start = (node *)malloc(sizeof(node));
        temp = start;
        temp -> next = start;
        /* Here in this code, we take the first node as a dummy node.
           The first node does not contain data, but it used because to avoid handling special cases
           in insert and delete functions.

        printf("1. Insert\n");
        printf("2. Delete\n");
        printf("3. Print\n");
        printf("4. Find\n");
                int query;
                        int data;
                else if(query==2)
                        int data;
                else if(query==3)
                        printf("The list is ");
                else if(query==4)
                        int data;
                        int status = find(start,data);
                                printf("Element Found\n");
                                printf("Element Not Found\n");



MCQ Quiz on Circular Linked List

Companion MCQ Quiz for Circular Linked Lists- test how much you know about the topic. Your score will be e-mailed to you at the address you provide.

MCQ Quiz- Circular Linked List

Related Visualizations (Java Applet Visualizations for different kinds of Linked Lists) :

Lists : Linear data structures, contain elements, each of which point to the "next" in the sequence as demonstrated in the examples below ( Simple, Circular and Double Linked Lists are some common kinds of lists ) .  Additions and removals can be made at any point in the list - in this way it differs from stacks and queues. 


1. Simple Linked Lists - A Java Applet Visualization

2. Circular Linked Lists - A Java Applet Visualization

3. Double Linked Lists - A Java Applet Visualizaion

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Some Important Data Structures and Algorithms, at a glance:

Arrays : Popular Sorting and Searching Algorithms



Bubble Sort  

Insertion Sort 

Selection Sort Shell Sort

Merge Sort  

Quick Sort 

Heap Sort
Binary Search Algorithm

Basic Data Structures  and Operations on them




 Single Linked List 

Double Linked List

Circular Linked List