Is it really necessary for a programmer to learn data structures and algorithms?

It is not always about writing code that works but writing code that works efficiently.

You can definitely find some jobs to do where you won’t need to deal with data structures or problem solving at all. But if you do have the knowledge about data structures, you can find better jobs, do your work efficiently and provide a higher value to the company you join.

The goal of any employee is not only to make a living for himself but also to be an asset for the company you interview for to have better chances of the company investing in you.

If you take an example for the basic binary search algorithm, let’s say that you are working on an eCommerce website, the user puts a key for the data that you need to search and then display so that he can go ahead and purchase it. If you are using linear search to search about the key in a million products, you will have to perform 1M comparisons in the worst case. On the other hand, if you know binary search, the worst-case comparisons come down to 20 i.e. log2(1000000).

Some known importance of learning data structures are,

  • Working with real-world problems
  • Simplifying the problem with effective data structure
  • Optimized code and software performance
  • Greater code quality and maintainability

Data structures are often asked in technical interviews as well, so they will be heavily required to apply for software development and roles where your problem solving ability is judged.