Swap nodes in a Doubly Linked List

1 minute read

When I first learned about Doubly Linked Lists what I found really tricky about them was how to sort them and more specifically how to swap two nodes. So I decided to make a post about it.

Let’s assume that our list consists of only 4 nodes. Those are enough for us to cover every possible scenario during swapping.

Our swap function is going to take two parameters, our left and right nodes.

void swap(struct list* left, struct list* right)

Before we start messing with left and right’s pointers we have to make sure that the Nodes pointing to them are updated.

First we make sure that there is a Node that has left as next if ( left->previous ) then we make that Node to have right as next left->previous->next = right;. If however, there are no nodes before left that means that it is the head. In that case, we now have to set our head equal to right head = right; since left is going to no longer be the head after the swap.

  if ( left->previous ){
    left->previous->next = right;
  else {
    head = right;

We follow a similar procedure for the Node after right.

  if ( right->next ){
    right->next->previous = left;

Now it’s just left and right. We now simply need to swap left and right’s pointers.

  left->next  = right->next;
  right->previous = left->previous;
  right->next = left;
  left->previous = right;

Notice how I assigned left to be right’s next Node and right to be left’s previous Node.