Guide to Implement a Stack in C Programming

Stacks are fundamental data structures in computer science that follow the Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) principle.

They are widely used in various algorithms and applications, such as expression evaluation, backtracking, memory management, and more.

If you’re learning C programming or want to refresh your knowledge of stacks, this guide will walk you through the process of implementing a stack in C.

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  1. Understanding the Stack Data Structure: A stack is an abstract data type that consists of a collection of elements, where elements are added and removed from one end called the top. The basic operations on a stack are:
  • Push: Adds an element to the top of the stack.
  • Pop: Removes and returns the top element from the stack.
  • Peek: Returns the top element without removing it.
  • IsEmpty: Checks if the stack is empty.
  • Size: Returns the number of elements in the stack.
  1. Defining the Stack Structure: In C programming, a stack can be implemented using an array or a linked list. Let’s start with the array-based implementation. First, define the maximum capacity of the stack and create a structure to hold the stack elements and other necessary variables.

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#define MAX_SIZE 100

typedef struct {
    int arr[MAX_SIZE];
    int top;
} Stack;

The ‘arr‘ array stores the stack elements, and the top variable represents the index of the top element. Initially, when the stack is empty, set top to -1.

  1. Initializing the Stack: To initialize the stack, set the top variable to -1. This indicates that the stack is empty.
void initialize(Stack* stack) {
    stack->top = -1;
  1. Implementing Push Operation: The push operation adds an element to the top of the stack. Increment the top variable and assign the new element to arr[top].
void push(Stack* stack, int value) {
    if (stack->top == MAX_SIZE - 1) {
        printf("Stack Overflow: Cannot push element, stack is full.\n");
    stack->arr[++stack->top] = value;
  1. Implementing Pop Operation: The pop operation removes and returns the top element from the stack. Decrement the top variable and return arr[top].
int pop(Stack* stack) {
    if (isEmpty(stack)) {
        printf("Stack Underflow: Cannot pop element, stack is empty.\n");
        return -1; // Or any other value to indicate an error
    return stack->arr[stack->top--];

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  1. Implementing Peek Operation: The peek operation returns the top element without removing it. Simply return arr[top] without modifying top.
int peek(Stack* stack) {
    if (isEmpty(stack)) {
        printf("Stack is empty.\n");
        return -1; // Or any other value to indicate an error
    return stack->arr[stack->top];
  1. Implementing IsEmpty Operation: The IsEmpty operation checks if the stack is empty by verifying if top is -1.
int isEmpty(Stack* stack) {
    return (stack->top == -1);
  1. Implementing Size Operation: The Size operation returns the number of elements in the stack, which is top + 1.
int size(Stack* stack) {
    return stack->top + 1;


In this guide, we have covered the process of implementing a stack in C programming.

By understanding the stack data structure and implementing the basic operations such as push, pop, peek, isEmpty, and size, you now have a solid foundation for working with stacks.

Remember, stacks are versatile data structures that find applications in various algorithms and scenarios.

They can be further expanded upon by adding additional operations or incorporating them into more complex data structures.

With the knowledge gained from this guide, you can now confidently incorporate stacks into your C programming projects and leverage their power for efficient and organized data manipulation.

Happy coding!

Moreover, this blog post is fabricated by the content experts at Accrete Infosolution Technologies LLP, a reliable web development service provider that has years of expertise in providing IT services across the globe. Contact us today to hire web developers for your dream project!

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