What Are Trees and Types of Trees in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

What Are Trees and Types of Trees in Data Structure?

A tree is a widely used data structure in computer science. It is a hierarchical structure that represents relationships between elements or nodes.

Each node in a tree can have zero or more child nodes, except for the root node which has no parent. Trees are commonly used to organize and store data efficiently, making them an essential concept in data structures.

Basic Terminology

Before we dive into the types of trees, let’s familiarize ourselves with some basic terminology:

  • Node: Each element in a tree is called a node.
  • Root: The topmost node in a tree is called the root.
  • Parent: A node that has one or more child nodes.
  • Child: Nodes directly connected to a parent node.
  • Sibling: Nodes that share the same parent.
  • Leaf: Nodes with no children.

Main Types of Trees

1. Binary Tree

A binary tree is a type of tree where each node can have at most two child nodes, commonly referred to as the left child and right child. The arrangement of these child nodes determines the structure of the binary tree. Binary trees are extensively used in various applications such as binary search trees and heap data structures.

2. Binary Search Tree (BST)

A binary search tree (BST) is a specific type of binary tree that follows an ordering property. In a BST, for any given node, all elements on its left subtree are smaller, and all elements on its right subtree are larger. This property allows for efficient searching, insertion, and deletion operations.

3. AVL Tree

An AVL tree is a self-balancing binary search tree. It maintains a balance factor for each node, which ensures that the height difference between the left and right subtrees is at most one. Whenever an insertion or deletion violates this balance property, rotations are performed to rebalance the tree.

4. Red-Black Tree

A red-black tree is another type of self-balancing binary search tree. It guarantees that the longest path from the root to any leaf node is no more than twice as long as the shortest path. To maintain this balance, nodes are colored red or black and undergo rotations and color changes during insertions and deletions.

5. B-Tree

A B-tree is a balanced search tree that allows efficient storage and retrieval of large amounts of data. It is commonly used in file systems and databases where data needs to be stored on disk or secondary storage devices. B-trees have multiple child nodes per parent, making them highly efficient for disk-based operations.


Trees are fundamental in computer science due to their ability to represent hierarchical relationships efficiently. The types of trees mentioned above are just a few examples of the various trees used in different applications. Understanding these concepts will help you design efficient algorithms and data structures for solving complex problems.

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