Linked List Cycle II LeetCode Solution

Difficulty Level Medium
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Problem Statement

Linked List Cycle II LeetCode Solution – Given the head of a linked list, return the node where the cycle begins. If there is no cycle, return null.

There is a cycle in a linked list if there is some node in the list that can be reached again by continuously following the next pointer. Internally, pos is used to denote the index of the node that the tail’s next pointer is connected to (0-indexed). It is -1 if there is no cycle. (Note that pos is not passed as a parameter.)

We are not allowed to modify the linked list.

Linked List Cycle II LeetCode Solution

Input: head = [3,2,0,-4], pos = 1
Output: tail connects to node index 1
Explanation: There is a cycle in the linked list, where tail connects to the second node.


Linked List Cycle II LeetCode Solution

  • slow moves 1 step at a time, fast moves 2 steps at a time.
  • when slow and fast meet each other, they must be on the cycle
    • x denotes the length of the linked list before starting the circle
    • y denotes the distance from the start of the cycle to where slow and fast met
    • C denotes the length of the cycle
    • when they meet, slow traveled (x + y) steps while fast traveled 2 * (x + y) steps, and the extra distance (x + y) must be a multiple of the circle length C
      • note that xyC are all lengths or the number of steps needed to move.
      • headslowfast are pointers.
      • head moves x steps and arrives at the start of the cycle.
  • so we have x + y = N * C, let slow continue to travel from y and after x more steps, slow will return to the start of the cycle.
  • At the same time, according to the definition of x, head will also reach the start of the cycle after moving x steps.
  • so if head and slow start to move at the same time, they will meet at the start of the cycle, that is the answer.


Java Code for

public class Solution {
    public ListNode detectCycle(ListNode head) {
        ListNode slow = head, fast = head;
        while (fast != null && != null) {
            slow =;
            fast =;
            if (slow == fast) break;
        if (fast == null || == null) return null;
        while (head != slow) {
            head =;
            slow =;
        return head;

C++ Code for

class Solution {
    ListNode *detectCycle(ListNode *head) {
        ListNode *slow = head, *fast = head;
        while (fast && fast->next) {
            slow = slow->next;
            fast = fast->next->next;
            if (slow == fast) break;
        if (!(fast && fast->next)) return NULL;
        while (head != slow) {
            head = head->next;
            slow = slow->next;
        return head;

Python Code for

class Solution(object):
    def detectCycle(self, head):
        slow = fast = head
        while fast and
            slow, fast =,
            if slow == fast: break
        else: return None  # if not (fast and return None
        while head != slow:
            head, slow =,
        return head

Complexity Analysis for Linked List Cycle II LeetCode Solution

Time Complexity

O(N) since slow ptr moves to every node.

Space Complexity

O(1) as we are using two constant iterators for the linked list (slow and fast)


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