Most students of computer science tend to devalue the importance of studying data structures and algorithms (DSA) as they think of it as being highly complexed, irrelevant and time-consuming. They fail to grasp the upside of learning DSA and how it has profound usage in different walks of life. In times of economic downturn, it can make students with a strong knowledge of these concepts job-ready.
Algorithms are way more than mere instructions. Whether we call them algorithms or programming basics, the nomenclature doesn’t matter. What matters more is that they teach us how to define clear steps and conceptualize workable solutions in the form of distinctive steps of a process.
Data structures refer to an orderly arrangement of data so that operations can be effectively performed on this data in an effective manner; and they are of two kinds, namely, linear and non-linear.
Contrary to the popular notion, the knowledge of data structures and algorithms actually has a big role in solving real-life problems within minutes which otherwise take months to be resolved. For instance, it can help to find out a set of people in the same age group from a large collection of data. Presuming this data is sorted, the binary search algorithm based on the principle of DSA can help solve this issue easily. The binary search algorithm is a logarithmically scalable algorithm and not linearly scalable like the conventional methods.
Importance of Learning Data Structures & Algorithms
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) require engineers with a well-rounded knowledge of data structures and algorithms. Using the combination of DSA and ML, these engineers can design great products. The knowledge of DSA is the foundational base of algorithmic thinking and logical concepts of computer science. ML and AI are no exceptions. Engineers spend a lot of time in collecting data sorting which is a formidable challenge in itself and can be solved by understanding data structures.
Data structure knowledge is tested to a large extent during technical hiring process of several companies. This is mainly because companies face huge and complicated problems almost daily, and they are on the lookout for smart people who can solve these issues in less time and with the least number of resources.
Possessing an advanced know-how of data structures and algorithms is an unequivocal indicator of one’s capabilities in resolving complicated problems within minimal time. Recruiters are interested to know what tools a candidate uses to reach the final solution; they are not concerned with the final solution to the problem.
Big giants like Google and Facebook spend only about 20-30 per cent of their time in the implementation of the code. Rest of the time they work on formulating the solution with the help of algorithms to save millions that is spent on resources such as servers.
From here one can gauge the significance and the value that big companies attach with the knowledge of DSA in their hiring process. The hiring managers from the big enterprises spend more time on various programming contests and different programming websites as it is on these platforms that they find top techies who can suggest innovative and unique solutions to the problems.
This is why it has become essential for students to upskill themselves in DSA to become employable.
To this end, there are various upskilling courses that can help one prepare for the job roles in this field.
Courses in data structure and algorithms teach right from the basic to the advanced level, and these can be taken even by students who just have a basic knowledge of C++ or Java. These courses offer a wealth of knowledge and practice challenges that will prepare students for interviews with all top-notch tech companies.
Moreover, data structures and algorithms are considered the core of computer science. With increasing advancements in computer science, a greater amount of data is being stored and processed. The huge volume of data can slow down the processing time of computer systems. This is where data structures and algorithms come in handy. They possess the capability to improve the processing power of systems as they enable an efficient utilization of the data stored. Since DSA enormously helps in tasks such as data search, it is no wonder that individuals having a profound knowledge of these concepts will be much sought-after in the times to come.
Undoubtedly, learning data structures and algorithms is a feat in itself but the efforts put in will be worthwhile. Without the knowledge of DSA, one won’t be able to optimize codes and solutions for a problem. The remarkable utility of data structures has made it imperative for budding programmers and potential students to learn it and carve a successful career in computer science. Even employees working in this field have to upskill themselves to be apprised of the latestdevelopments and remain ahead in the competition.
The writer is Founder & CEO, GeeksforGeeks
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