A binary heap is a specialized tree-based data structure that satisfies the heap property. It is commonly used to implement priority queues. In this article, we will explore the concept of a binary heap and understand how it works.
What is a Binary Heap?
A binary heap is a complete binary tree that satisfies the heap property. The heap property states that for every node x in the binary heap, the key value of x is greater than or equal to the key values of its children (if any).
A complete binary tree is a binary tree in which all levels, except possibly the last one, are completely filled, and all nodes are as left as possible.
Main Types of Binary Heaps
There are two main types of binary heaps:
- Min Heap: In a min heap, for every node x, the key value of x is less than or equal to the key values of its children (if any).
- Max Heap: In a max heap, for every node x, the key value of x is greater than or equal to the key values of its children (if any).
Operations on Binary Heaps
The main operations supported by a binary heap include:
- Insertion: Inserting an element at the appropriate position in the binary heap.
- Deletion: Removing either the minimum or maximum element from the binary heap.
- Merging: Combining two heaps into a single heap.
- Heapify: Converting an array of elements into a binary heap.
Binary Heap Implementation
A binary heap can be implemented using an array. The array is treated as a complete binary tree, with the root of the tree at index 0. The left child of a node at index i is located at index 2i + 1, and the right child is located at index 2i + 2.
The binary heap operations can be performed efficiently using this array-based representation. For example, inserting an element involves adding it to the end of the array and then percolating it up to its correct position by comparing it with its parent.
Consider a min heap represented as an array: [10, 20, 30, 40, 50]. This represents the following binary heap:
10 / \ 20 30 / \ 40 50
In this example, the minimum element is at the root (10), and for any given node, its key value is less than or equal to the key values of its children.
A binary heap is a powerful data structure that allows efficient operations such as insertion, deletion, merging, and more. Understanding how binary heaps work can greatly enhance your ability to solve various problems efficiently.
Whether you are implementing your own priority queue or working on algorithms that require efficient selection or sorting operations, knowing about binary heaps will undoubtedly be valuable.