Data Structures – Trees


A tree data structure can be defined recursively (locally) as a collection of nodes (starting at a root node), where each node is a data structure consisting of a value, together with a list of references to nodes (the “children”), with the constraints that no reference is duplicated, and none points to the root. A tree with no nodes is called a null or empty tree.

A binary tree is a non-linear data structure consisting of nodes, where each node has the following 3 components:

Data element: Stores any kind of data in the node.
Left pointer: Points to the sub-tree on the left side of the node.
Right pointer: Points to the sub-tree on the right side of the node.

As the name suggests, the data element stores any kind of data in the node.
The left and right pointers point to binary trees on the left and right side of the node respectively.

If a tree is empty, it is represented by a null pointer.

Terminology used in trees:

RootThe top node in a tree.
ChildA node directly connected to another node when moving away from the Root.
ParentThe converse notion of a child.
SiblingsA group of nodes with the same parent.
DescendantA node that is reachable by repeated proceeding from parent to child.
AncestorA node that is reachable by repeated proceeding from child to parent.
BranchA node of a tree that has child nodes. Also called an internal node.
LeafA node with no children. Less commonly called an external node.
DegreeThe number of subtrees of a node.
EdgeThe connection between one node and another.
PathA sequence of nodes and edges connecting a node with a descendant.
LevelThe level of a node is defined by 1 + (the number of connections between the node and the root).
Height of the treeThe height of a tree is the height of its root node.
DepthThe depth of a node is the number of edges from the tree’s root node to the node.
Forest A forest is a set of n ≥ 0 disjoint trees.

Some Popular Types of Trees:

1. Binary Tree. It has the following properties:

  • The maximum number of nodes at level ‘l’ of a binary tree is 2^l-1.
  • In Binary tree where every node has 0 or 2 children, number of leaf nodes is always one more than nodes with two children.

2. Binary Search Tree. It has the following properties:

  • The left subtree of a node contains only nodes with keys lesser than the node’s key
  • The right subtree of a node contains only nodes with keys greater than the node’s key
  • The left and right subtree each must also be a binary search tree

3. AVL Tree. It has the following properties:

  • Height difference of left and right subtree of the node should be less than 2
  • Re-balancing is done when heights of two child subtrees of a node differ by more than one

4. Red Black Tree

5. Splay Tree

6. Huffman Tree

7. M-Way Search Tree (used for huge amounts of data)

Common uses

  • Representing hierarchical data
  • Storing data in a way that makes it easily searchable
  • Representing sorted lists of data
  • Routing algorithms

Code of a tree node

struct node { int data; //Data element struct node * left; //Pointer to left node struct node * right; //Pointer to right node };

Code for node creation

createNode() returns a new node with the given data and NULL left and right pointers.

struct node* newNode(int element) { struct node* temp = (node*)malloc(sizeof(node)); //Allocate memeory for temp node temp->data = element; // Assign element to temp temp->left = NULL; // Initialize left child as NULL temp->right = NULL; // Initialize right child as NULL return temp; }

More Information:

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