What Is Tree and Its Properties in Data Structure?


Scott Campbell

A tree is a fundamental data structure in computer science that is widely used to represent hierarchical relationships between elements. It consists of nodes connected by edges, with a single node called the root serving as the starting point of the tree. Each node can have zero or more child nodes, and nodes without any children are called leaf nodes.

Properties of Trees

Trees possess several important properties that make them useful in various applications:

Hierarchical Structure

A tree follows a hierarchical structure, with each node having a specific level or depth in the tree. The root node is at the highest level, while the leaf nodes are at the lowest level. This hierarchy allows for efficient organization and representation of data.

Root Node

The root node is the topmost node in a tree and serves as the starting point for accessing other nodes. It does not have any parent nodes but may have multiple child nodes.

Parent and Child Nodes

In a tree, each node (except for the root) has exactly one parent node and zero or more child nodes. The parent node is located directly above its child node, while child nodes are located directly below their parent node.

Leaf Nodes

Leaf nodes are the end points of a tree and do not have any child nodes. They represent the final elements in a hierarchy and are often associated with specific data or information.


A subtree is a smaller tree within a larger tree. It consists of a parent node and its descendants, including all their children, grandchildren, and so on. Subtrees are useful for organizing complex hierarchical structures into manageable portions.

Depth and Height

The depth of a node in a tree is the number of edges from the root to that node. The height of a tree is the maximum depth among all its nodes. These measures help determine the overall structure and complexity of a tree.

Binary Trees

A binary tree is a type of tree where each node has at most two child nodes: a left child and a right child. Binary trees are commonly used in search algorithms, such as binary search trees, where elements are efficiently sorted and retrieved.


Trees are versatile data structures that allow for efficient representation and organization of hierarchical relationships. Their properties, such as hierarchical structure, parent-child relationships, leaf nodes, subtrees, depth, and height, enable various applications in computer science and beyond. Understanding trees is essential for designing efficient algorithms and data structures.

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