Which Data Structure Is Used in Tree?


Larry Thompson

Which Data Structure Is Used in Tree?

A tree is a hierarchical data structure that consists of nodes connected by edges. Each node in a tree can have zero or more child nodes, except for the root node which has no parent.

Trees are widely used in computer science and have various applications such as representing hierarchical relationships, organizing data, and implementing algorithms.

The Basic Components of a Tree

Before we dive into the data structure used in trees, let’s understand the basic components of a tree:

  • Node: A node is a fundamental building block of a tree. It contains data and references to its child nodes (if any).
  • Edge: An edge is a connection between two nodes, representing the relationship between them.
  • Root: The root is the topmost node in a tree. It serves as the starting point for accessing all other nodes in the tree.
  • Parent: A parent node is any node that has one or more child nodes.
  • Child: A child node is directly connected to its parent node.
  • Sibling: Sibling nodes share the same parent.
  • Leaf: A leaf node is a node that has no children.

Data Structure Used in Trees: Linked List or Array?

When it comes to implementing trees, there are two common choices for storing and organizing the nodes: linked list and array.

Linked List Implementation

In a linked list implementation, each node stores a reference to its child nodes. The child nodes are dynamically allocated and connected using pointers or references.

This dynamic nature allows for efficient insertion and deletion of nodes within the tree. However, navigating through the tree can be slower compared to an array implementation, as it requires following pointers from one node to another.

Array Implementation

In an array implementation, the tree is represented using an array where each index corresponds to a node. The relationships between nodes are determined by their indices in the array.

For example, given a node at index i, its left child would be at index 2*i, and its right child would be at index 2*i + 1. This fixed indexing scheme allows for faster navigation through the tree but can be less flexible when it comes to adding or removing nodes.

Choosing the Right Data Structure

The choice between linked list and array implementation depends on the specific requirements of your application. If your tree structure needs frequent modifications such as insertions and deletions, a linked list implementation might be more suitable due to its dynamic nature.

On the other hand, if your focus is on efficient navigation and access of nodes, an array implementation could provide better performance.

It’s important to note that there are other advanced data structures optimized for specific scenarios, such as balanced search trees (e.g., AVL trees or red-black trees) that ensure efficient operations in terms of time complexity.


In summary, both linked lists and arrays can be used to implement trees. The choice depends on factors such as requirements for modification operations versus navigation/access efficiency.

Understanding these data structures can help you make informed decisions when designing and implementing trees in your applications.

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