What Is General Tree in Data Structure With Example?


Larry Thompson

A general tree is a type of data structure that represents a hierarchical structure, similar to a real-life tree. It consists of a collection of nodes, where each node can have zero or more child nodes. Unlike binary trees, which have strict rules about the number of child nodes a node can have (either 0, 1, or 2), general trees allow for any number of child nodes.

Structure of a General Tree:
A general tree is made up of two components: nodes and edges. Each node represents an element or data and is connected to other nodes through edges.

The edges define the relationship between the nodes. Each node can have any number of children, but it can only have one parent (except for the root node).

To understand the concept better, let’s consider an example of a family tree. In this example, each node represents an individual, and the edges represent their relationships.

Family Tree Example:

  • Root Node: Grandfather
    • Child Nodes: Father, Uncle
      • Grandchild Nodes: Cousin1, Cousin2

In this family tree example, the root node is the grandfather. The grandfather has two children – father and uncle. The father has two grandchildren – cousin1 and cousin2.

Operations on General Trees:
General trees support various operations to manipulate and access the data they store. Some common operations include:


Adding a new node to a general tree involves creating a new node with the desired data and connecting it to an existing node as its child.


Deleting a node from a general tree involves removing the node and updating the connections between its parent and its children.


Traversing a general tree allows us to visit each node in the tree in a specific order. Common traversal methods include depth-first traversal (pre-order, post-order, and in-order) and breadth-first traversal.

General trees are widely used in various applications, including file systems, organization structures, and hierarchical data representation.

In conclusion, a general tree is a flexible data structure that allows for any number of child nodes. It represents hierarchical relationships between elements or data. Understanding general trees is crucial for efficiently managing and manipulating hierarchical data in various applications.

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