What Are the Advantage of Heap Data Structure Over Binary Tree?


Heather Bennett

What Are the Advantages of Heap Data Structure Over Binary Tree?

The heap data structure is a complete binary tree that satisfies the heap property. This property states that for a max heap, the value of each node is greater than or equal to its children, while for a min heap, the value of each node is smaller than or equal to its children. In comparison, a binary tree is an ordered tree in which each node can have at most two children.

Advantage 1: Efficient Insertion and Deletion

The heap data structure has several advantages over binary trees. Firstly, it offers efficient insertion and deletion operations.

In a binary tree, these operations may require restructuring the entire tree to maintain its order. However, in a heap, insertions can be done by simply adding the new element at the next available position in the last level or swapping it with its parent until the heap property is satisfied. Similarly, deletions can be performed by removing the root element and replacing it with the last element in the last level while maintaining the heap property through swaps.

Advantage 2: Faster Access to Maximum or Minimum Element

A key advantage of using a heap over a binary tree is its ability to provide faster access to either the maximum or minimum element depending on whether it is implemented as a max heap or min heap. The root node of a max heap represents the maximum value within the elements stored in it, whereas in a min heap, it represents the minimum value. This allows for constant time access (O(1)) to retrieve this extreme value without needing to traverse through all nodes as required in some binary trees.

Advantage 3: Priority Queue Implementation

Heap data structures are widely used in the implementation of priority queues. A priority queue is an abstract data type that allows elements to be inserted with an associated priority and extracted according to their priority.

The heap’s ability to efficiently insert and delete elements while maintaining the heap property makes it an ideal choice for implementing a priority queue. The maximum or minimum element can be easily accessed from the root, ensuring that the highest or lowest priority item is always at the front of the queue.

Advantage 4: Space Efficiency

Compared to binary trees, heaps generally require less memory space. In a binary tree, each node contains pointers or references to its children, which can result in additional memory overhead. In contrast, heaps can be implemented using an array where each index represents a node, allowing for efficient storage and retrieval without the need for extra pointers or references.


The heap data structure offers several advantages over binary trees, including efficient insertion and deletion operations, faster access to extreme elements, suitability for priority queue implementations, and space efficiency. These advantages make heaps an excellent choice in scenarios where quick access to extreme values and efficient management of priorities are required.

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