What Is Multiway Tree in Data Structure?


Angela Bailey

A Multiway Tree, also known as a General Tree, is a type of tree data structure where each node can have multiple children. In contrast to binary trees, which can have at most two children per node, multiway trees can have any number of children. This property allows for more flexibility in organizing and representing hierarchical relationships between elements.

Structure of a Multiway Tree

A multiway tree consists of nodes and edges. Each node in the tree represents an element or an entity, and the edges connect the nodes to show the hierarchical relationship between them. Unlike binary trees, where each node has a left and right child, in a multiway tree, each node can have several child nodes.


  • A multiway tree is either empty or consists of a root node and zero or more child nodes.
  • Each child of a node in a multiway tree is itself a multiway tree.
  • The number of children that a node can have is called the degree of that node.
  • The height of a multiway tree is defined as the length of the longest path from the root to any leaf. It represents the depth or level of the tree.


Multiway trees are widely used in various applications due to their flexible structure. Some common applications include:

File Systems

In file systems, directories are often represented using multiway trees. Each directory can contain multiple files and subdirectories. This hierarchical structure allows for efficient organization and navigation through files.

Organization Charts

Multiway trees are commonly used to represent organization charts in companies or institutions. Each employee or position can be represented as a node, with its subordinates as child nodes.

HTML Document Object Model (DOM)

In HTML, the DOM represents the structure of an HTML document as a tree. The DOM tree is a multiway tree where each element in the HTML document is a node, and their hierarchical relationship is represented by the edges.


Traversal of a multiway tree can be done using various algorithms, such as depth-first traversal or breadth-first traversal. These algorithms allow us to visit each node in the tree and perform operations on them.

Depth-First Traversal

In depth-first traversal, we start from the root node and explore as far as possible along each branch before backtracking. This can be done using techniques like pre-order, in-order, or post-order traversal.

Breadth-First Traversal

Breadth-first traversal involves visiting all the nodes at the same level before moving to the next level. This can be achieved using techniques like level order traversal.


Multiway trees are a powerful data structure that allows for representing hierarchical relationships with multiple children per node. They find applications in various fields such as file systems, organization charts, and HTML DOM.

Understanding multiway trees and their properties is essential for efficient manipulation and organization of data.

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