History Query on Stack

Define your own stack structure to support the following three operations:

  1. push push a new element into the stack
  2. pop pop a new element into the stack
  3. query query the state of the stack after operation i

Assume i = 0 is the initial state of the stack, when the stack is empty. All other operations including query itself is numbered as 1, 2, 3 and etc. Design a data structure to support these actions and let's the time and space as efficient as possible.

We can save the operation history and the operating number into a history list, once a query comes, we redo every thing from the beginning and get the status of stack. This solution cost a lot in query time and is not acceptable.

If you are using a array to store the element of stack. There are not many things we can do to improve the space and query cost. But if we open our mind and use a linked list to store elements, we can come up a quite good solution.

Using a singly linked list, we use the head as the top of stack. After each operation, we save a pointer to the head in history. Then, when queried the ith operation, we just return the head saved in the history list at position i. In fact, reference to every element pushed in the stack will be kept and the singly linked list along with the elements saved in the history list is constructed as a directed acyclic graph.

Following code shows how to do it:

import java.util.*;

class StackNode<T> {
    T val;
    StackNode<T> next;

    StackNode(T val) {
        this.val = val;

public class HistoryStack <T>{
    StackNode<T> head = null;
    ArrayList<StackNode<T>> history = new ArrayList<StackNode<T>>();

    HistoryStack() {

    public void push(T val) {
        StackNode<T> node = new StackNode<T>(val);
        node.next = head;
        head = node;

    public T pop() {
        T ret = null;

        if (head != null) {
            ret = head.val;
            head = head.next;
            return ret;

        return ret;

    public List<T> query(int time) {
        if (time >= history.size()) return null;
        StackNode<T> p = history.get(time);
        LinkedList<T> status = new LinkedList<T>();
        while (p != null) {
            p = p.next;
        return status;

Note that we are using an ArrayList to save the history so that get the ith history has constant time complexity. A normal linked list need an 's time cost to access the ith element which is no better than redo all the history. Also we can use a linked list that each node at index i has a pointer to the node i * 2 so that we can access a node in . Added items in the history list won't be remove or changed, so it is extremely suitable to similar methods that could improve accessing speed but may cost a lot to remove or modify items in the list.