How Do You Find the Depth of a Tree in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

In data structure, a tree is a widely used non-linear data structure that consists of nodes connected by edges. Each node in a tree can have zero or more child nodes, except for the root node which has no parent. The depth of a tree is defined as the maximum number of edges from the root to any leaf node in the tree.

Finding the Depth of a Tree

To find the depth of a tree, we can use various algorithms. One commonly used algorithm is called Depth-First Search (DFS).

In this algorithm, we start from the root node and traverse through each branch until we reach a leaf node. We keep track of the maximum depth encountered during traversal.

Algorithm Steps:

  1. Start at the root node.
  2. If the current node is a leaf node, update the maximum depth if necessary.
  3. If the current node has children, recursively apply step 2 to each child while incrementing the depth by one.

We can implement this algorithm using recursion or iteration. Let’s take a look at an iterative implementation:

int findTreeDepth(Node root) {
    if (root == null) {
        return 0;
    int maxDepth = 0;
    Stack<Pair<Node, Integer>> stack = new Stack<>();
    stack.push(new Pair<>(root, 1));
    while (!stack.isEmpty()) {
        Pair<Node, Integer> pair = stack.pop();
        Node currentNode = pair.first;
        int currentDepth = pair.second;
        maxDepth = Math.max(maxDepth, currentDepth);
        for (Node child : currentNode.getChildren()) {
            stack.push(new Pair<>(child, currentDepth + 1));
    return maxDepth;

This implementation uses a stack to keep track of nodes and their corresponding depths. We start with the root node and its depth of 1. As we traverse the tree, we update the maximum depth if necessary and push the children of each node onto the stack along with their incremented depths.

Complexity Analysis:

The time complexity of finding the depth of a tree using this algorithm is O(n), where n is the number of nodes in the tree. This is because we visit each node exactly once.

In conclusion, finding the depth of a tree is an essential operation in data structure analysis. The Depth-First Search algorithm provides an efficient way to find this information. By traversing through each branch, we can determine the maximum number of edges from the root to any leaf node.

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