Building a Stack Using Arrays in C++ A Comprehensive Guide

How to create stack using array in c++


In computer science, a stack is a fundamental data structure that follows the Last In, First Out (LIFO) principle. It is widely used for managing function calls, parsing expressions, and implementing undo-redo functionalities in various applications. Implementing a stack using arrays in C++ is an essential skill for any aspiring programmer. In this article, we will explore the concept of stacks, understand the underlying principles of array-based stack implementation, and provide a step-by-step guide to creating a robust and efficient stack data structure in C++.

Understanding Stacks

Before diving into the implementation details, let’s grasp the core concepts of stacks. Imagine a real-world stack of plates, where you can only add or remove plates from the top. Similarly, a stack in computer science behaves in the same way. We can only perform two primary operations

  • Push: Add an element to the top of the stack.
  • Pop: Remove the topmost element from the stack.

Additionally, stacks may provide other utility functions like

  • Top: Return the top element without removing it.
  • Size: Return the number of elements in the stack.
  • Empty: Check if the stack is empty.

Array-based Stack Implementation: 

In C++, arrays provide a simple and efficient way to implement a stack. Here’s how it works

  • Define a fixed-size array to hold the stack elements and an integer variable to track the top of the stack.
  • Initialize the top variable to -1 to indicate an empty stack.
  • Implement the “Push” operation by incrementing the top variable and inserting the element at the top index in the array.
  • Implement the “Pop” operation by returning the top element from the array and decrementing the top variable.
  • Implement the “Top” operation by returning the top element without modifying the stack.
  • Implement the “Size” operation by returning the value of the top variable plus one.
  • Implement the “Empty” operation by checking if the top variable is equal to -1.

Error Handling and Edge Cases

When working with a stack implemented using arrays, it’s essential to handle potential errors and edge cases. For instance

1. Stack Overflow Prevent pushing elements when the stack is full to avoid overwriting existing data.

2. Stack Underflow Avoid popping elements when the stack is empty to prevent accessing invalid memory locations.

3. Dynamic Resizing Consider implementing dynamic resizing to allow for a flexible stack size.

Performance Analysis

Array-based stacks offer constant-time complexity O(1) for push, pop, top, size, and empty operations since they directly access array elements using indices. However, the main limitation is their fixed size. Dynamic resizing can alleviate this drawback but introduces additional overhead. Overall, array-based stacks are suitable for scenarios where the maximum size is known in advance and memory constraints are well-defined.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is stack represented in C++ using arrays?

A stack is a linear data structure, that means it can be easily implemented using an array. You can use an array to store some elements in the specific order you receive them. Then you can use simple easy techniques to manage the data so that it can work like a Stack.

Can you make a stack of arrays C++?

Unlike Java, C++ arrays can be allocated on the stack. Java arrays are a special type of object, hence they can only be dynamically allocated via “new” and therefore allocated on the heap. Be cautious if you are trying to use “large” stack-allocated arrays.


In conclusion, understanding the basics of stack data structures and implementing them using arrays in C++ is crucial for any programmer. This article provided insights into stacks, discussed the array-based implementation, addressed error handling, and briefly analyzed performance aspects. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently create robust and efficient stacks in your C++ applications.