What Is Tree in Data Structure?


Heather Bennett

What Is Tree in Data Structure?

In the field of computer science, a tree is a widely used data structure that represents hierarchical relationships between elements. It is an abstract model of a hierarchical structure with a set of connected nodes, where each node can have zero or more child nodes.

Trees are extensively employed in various applications, ranging from file systems and network routing algorithms to database management systems and decision-making processes.

Key Terminologies

Before diving deeper into trees, let’s familiarize ourselves with some essential terminologies associated with them:

  • Node: A fundamental part of any tree that holds the data and references to its child nodes.
  • Root: The topmost node of a tree, serving as the starting point for traversing the entire structure.
  • Parent: A node that has one or more children connected to it.
  • Child: Nodes directly connected to another node when moving away from the root.
  • Sibling: Nodes sharing the same parent.
  • Leaf: Terminal nodes that have no children. They represent the endpoints of a tree.

Main Characteristics

Trees exhibit several key characteristics that distinguish them from other data structures:

  • Hierarchical Structure: The elements in a tree are organized in a hierarchical manner, resembling an inverted tree with branches stemming out from the root.
  • No Cycles: Unlike graphs, trees do not contain any cycles or loops. Each node can only have one path to reach any other node in the tree.
  • Ordered: The child nodes of a particular parent are typically ordered, meaning their arrangement holds significance.
  • Single Root: A tree must have a single root node from which all other nodes descend. It serves as the entry point for accessing the entire structure.

Types of Trees

Trees can be classified into various types based on their specific characteristics and usage. Some common types of trees include:

Binary Tree

A binary tree is a type of tree in which each node can have at most two children, referred to as the left child and right child. Binary trees are extensively used in many algorithms and data structures due to their simplicity and ease of implementation.

BST (Binary Search Tree)

A binary search tree is a variant of a binary tree that follows a specific ordering property. In a BST, for every node, all elements in its left subtree are smaller than the node itself, while all elements in its right subtree are greater.

This property facilitates efficient searching, insertion, and deletion operations.

N-ary Tree

Unlike binary trees, n-ary trees allow each node to have more than two children. The value of ‘n’ denotes the maximum number of children a node can have.

N-ary trees find applications in various domains where multiple relationships need to be represented efficiently.


In summary, a tree is an essential data structure used for representing hierarchical relationships between elements. It provides an organized way to store and access data efficiently.

Understanding the key terminologies, characteristics, and types of trees is crucial for mastering various algorithms and data structures in computer science.

By incorporating the knowledge gained from this article, you can leverage trees to solve complex problems and optimize your code. So, start exploring the world of trees and unlock their immense potential!

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