Is Segment Tree Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

Is Segment Tree Data Structure?

Segment tree is a versatile data structure that is widely used in computer science and programming. It is particularly useful for solving problems related to range queries and updates efficiently.

In this article, we will explore what a segment tree is, how it works, and discuss its applications in various scenarios.

Introduction to Segment Tree

A segment tree, also known as a range tree, is a binary tree-based data structure that provides a convenient way to store and process intervals or segments. Each node in the segment tree represents an interval or range of elements from the original array, where the leaves represent individual elements of the array.

The root node represents the entire array.

The key feature of a segment tree is that it allows efficient querying of various types of range operations such as finding the sum, minimum, maximum, or any other associative operation over a given range of elements in the original array. Additionally, it supports efficient updates on individual elements in the array.

Structure and Construction

A segment tree can be represented using an array or dynamically allocated nodes. The construction of a segment tree involves dividing the input array into smaller segments recursively until each segment contains only one element (leaf node).

The construction process typically follows a top-down approach.

To construct the segment tree:

  • Start with an input array.
  • Create an empty segment tree.
  • Divide the input array into two halves.
  • Recursively construct left and right subtrees.
  • Merge values of left and right subtrees to form parent nodes.
  • Repeat until all segments are processed.

Querying and Updating

Once the segment tree is constructed, it allows efficient querying and updating of the original array. Query operations involve finding the desired value over a given range of elements, while update operations involve modifying individual elements in the array.

To perform a query on a segment tree:

  • Start at the root node.
  • If the node’s range is completely within the query range, return its value.
  • If the node’s range does not intersect with the query range, return an appropriate default value.
  • If the node’s range partially intersects with the query range, recursively descend into its child nodes.
  • Merge and return the results obtained from child nodes.

To perform an update on a segment tree:

  • Start at the root node.
  • If the node’s range contains the index of the updated element, perform the update operation on it.
  • If necessary, propagate updates to parent nodes by merging values from child nodes.

Applications of Segment Tree

Segment trees find applications in various problem-solving scenarios where efficient querying and updating over ranges are required. Some common applications include:

  • Range sum or product queries
  • Range minimum or maximum queries
  • Finding kth smallest or largest element in a range
  • Finding number of elements less than or greater than a given value in a range

Segment trees are also used as building blocks for more complex data structures like interval trees and Fenwick trees (or binary indexed trees), which further extend their usefulness.


In conclusion, a segment tree is a powerful data structure that allows efficient range queries and updates on an array. Its ability to handle various types of range operations makes it a valuable tool in solving many algorithmic problems efficiently.

Understanding the structure and usage of segment trees can greatly enhance your problem-solving skills.

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