Why are data structures so important in interviews?

Posted by Vamsi Emani on Programmers See other posts from Programmers or by Vamsi Emani
Published on 2011-08-18T12:30:34Z Indexed on 2012/06/23 9:25 UTC
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I am a newbie into the corporate world recently graduated in computers. I am a java/groovy developer. I am a quick learner and I can learn new frameworks, APIs or even programming languages within considerably short amount of time. Albeit that, I must confess that I was not so strong in data structures when I graduated out of college. Through out the campus placements during my graduation, I've witnessed that most of the biggie tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft etc focused mainly on data structures. It appears as if data structures is the only thing that they expect from a graduate. Adding to this, I see that there is this general perspective that a good programmer is necessarily a one with good knowledge about data structures.

To be honest, I felt bad about that. I write good code. I follow standard design patterns of coding, I do use data structures but at the superficial level as in java exposed APIs like ArrayLists, LinkedLists etc. But the companies usually focused on the intricate aspects of Data Structures like pointer based memory manipulation and time complexities. Probably because of my java-ish background, Back then, I understood code efficiency and logic only when talked in terms of Object Oriented Programming like Objects, instances, etc but I never drilled down into the level of bits and bytes. I did not want people to look down upon me for this knowledge deficit of mine in Data Structures.

So really why all this emphasis on Data Structures? Does, Not having knowledge in Data Structures really effect one's career in programming? Or is the knowledge in this subject really a sufficient basis to differentiate a good and a bad programmer?

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