What Is Traversing in Data Structure and Algorithm?


Angela Bailey

Traversing in data structures and algorithms is the process of visiting each element of a data structure exactly once. It is an essential operation that allows us to access and manipulate the data stored in these structures. Traversing can be performed on various types of data structures, including arrays, linked lists, trees, graphs, and more.

Types of Traversals

There are different types of traversals based on the specific data structure being used. Let’s explore some commonly used traversal techniques:

1. Array Traversal

An array is a linear data structure where elements are stored in contiguous memory locations. To traverse an array, we simply iterate over each element using a loop or recursion.


int[] arr = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5};
for (int i = 0; i < arr.length; i++) {

2. Linked List Traversal

A linked list is a dynamic data structure where elements are connected through pointers or references. To traverse a linked list, we start from the head node and visit each node until we reach the end (usually marked by a null pointer).


class Node {
    int value;
    Node next;

Node head = new Node();
head.value = 1;

Node second = new Node();
second.value = 2;
head.next = second;

Node current = head;
while (current != null) {
    current = current.next;

3. Tree Traversal

A tree is a hierarchical data structure consisting of nodes connected by edges. There are three main types of tree traversals:

  • Preorder Traversal: Visit the current node, then recursively traverse the left subtree and right subtree.
  • Inorder Traversal: Recursively traverse the left subtree, visit the current node, then recursively traverse the right subtree.
  • Postorder Traversal: Recursively traverse the left subtree, then recursively traverse the right subtree, and finally visit the current node.

Example (Inorder Traversal):

class Node {
    int value;
    Node left;
    Node right;

void inorderTraversal(Node node) {
    if (node != null) {

Node root = new Node();
root.value = 1;

Node leftChild = new Node();
leftChild.value = 2;
root.left = leftChild;

Node rightChild = new Node();
rightChild.value = 3;
root.right = rightChild;


4. Graph Traversal

A graph is a non-linear data structure composed of nodes (vertices) connected by edges. There are two commonly used graph traversal techniques:

  • Breadth-First Search (BFS): Visit all the vertices of a graph level by level.
  • Depth-First Search (DFS): Explore as far as possible along each branch before backtracking.

Note: Graph traversal requires additional data structures like queues or stacks to maintain visited nodes.


Traversing is a fundamental concept in data structures and algorithms. It allows us to access, search, and modify the elements stored within these structures. By understanding different traversal techniques, you can efficiently navigate through various data structures and solve complex problems.

Remember to practice implementing these traversals in different scenarios to enhance your understanding and problem-solving skills.

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