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Basic Algorithms

Algorithms are the lifeblood of computing. They are the step-by-step instructions that computers follow to solve problems, analyze data, and make decisions. Just like recipes, they break down complex tasks into manageable procedures. Understanding these fundamental algorithms is a stepping stone to mastering computer science and programming.

What is Algorithm

1. Searching Algorithms:

What is Searching?

Searching is the fundamental process of locating a specific element or item within a collection of data. This collection of data can take various forms, such as arrays, lists, trees, or other structured representations. The primary objective of searching is to determine whether the desired element exists within the data, and if so, to identify its precise location or retrieve it. It plays an important role in various computational tasks and real-world applications, including information retrieval, data analysis, decision-making processes, and more.

Introduction Searching Algorithms

All search algorithms make use of a search key in order to proceed with the procedure. Search algorithms are expected to return a success or a failure status, usually denoted by Boolean true/false. Different search algorithms are available, and the performance and efficiency of the same depend on the data and on the manner in which they are used.

A linear search algorithm is considered the most basic of all search algorithms. The best perhaps is binary search. There are other search algorithms such as the depth-first search algorithm, breadth-first algorithm, etc. The efficiency of a search algorithm is measured by the number of times a comparison of the search key is done in the worst case. The notation used in search algorithms is O(n), where n is the number of comparisons done. It gives the idea of the asymptotic upper bound of execution time required for the algorithm with respect to a given condition.

Search cases in search algorithms can be categorized as best case, average case and worst case. In some algorithms, all the three cases might be asymptotically the same, whereas in some others there could be a large difference. The average behavior of the search algorithm helps in determining the usefulness of the algorithm.

Summary : A search algorithm is the step-by-step procedure used to locate specific data among a collection of data. It is considered a fundamental procedure in computing. In computer science, when searching for data, the difference between a fast application and a slower one often lies in the use of the proper search algorithm.


  • Target Element: This is the treasure you're seeking! It's the specific piece of data you want to find within the collection. Imagine searching a phonebook - the target element is the phone number of a particular person.
  • Search Space: Think of this as the haystack where your needle might be hiding. It represents the entire collection of data you're searching through. This could be an array of numbers, a list of names, or a more complex data structure.
  • Complexity: This refers to the effort required by the search algorithm. It's like measuring how much work the librarian has to do to find your book. Complexity is often measured in terms of time (how long it takes to find the target) and space (how much additional memory the algorithm needs).
  • Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic: Searching algorithms can be like following a recipe (deterministic) or taking educated guesses (non-deterministic). Deterministic algorithms always follow the same clear steps, like binary search which keeps dividing the search space in half. Non-deterministic algorithms, like linear search, might need to examine the entire collection in the worst-case scenario.

Real-World Applications

  • Information Retrieval: Imagine searching the web for a specific recipe. Search engines like Google leverage complex searching algorithms to sift through massive datasets, indexing websites and content. When you enter a query, these algorithms identify webpages most relevant to your search terms, delivering the information you seek in a fraction of a second.

  • Database Systems: Databases store vast amounts of information, from customer records to financial transactions. Searching algorithms are the backbone of efficient data retrieval. When you submit a query in a database management system, the search algorithm quickly locates the specific records that match your criteria, saving you time and effort.

  • E-commerce: Online shopping thrives on efficient search. E-commerce platforms use searching algorithms to help you find the perfect product. They allow you to filter and search based on various criteria like price, brand, or color. Behind the scenes, search algorithms power these filters, pinpointing products that meet your preferences, making your shopping experience smooth and efficient.

  • Networking: The internet is a complex network of interconnected devices. Search algorithms play a crucial role in routing data packets efficiently. They help determine the optimal path for information to travel across the network, ensuring your video calls or online games run smoothly.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is revolutionizing many fields. Searching algorithms are a fundamental tool for AI applications. They empower AI systems to solve problems, make decisions, and even play games like chess. By efficiently searching through vast amounts of data and identifying patterns, search algorithms contribute to the intelligence behind AI.

  • Pattern Recognition: Pattern recognition allows computers to identify and understand patterns in data, like images, speech, or handwriting. Searching algorithms are instrumental in pattern recognition. They help computers match new data against existing patterns, enabling applications like facial recognition in photos or voice recognition for virtual assistants.

Types of algorithms:

1. Linear Search:

Imagine searching for a specific book in a messy, unorganized bookshelf. Linear search mimics this approach. It's a straightforward method that examines each item in a collection one by one until it finds the target element (your desired book).

Here's how it works:

  1. The search begins at the first item in the collection.
  2. The algorithm compares the target element with the current item.
    • If they match, the search is successful, and the algorithm returns the location (index) of the target element.
    • If they don't match, the algorithm moves on to the next item in the collection.
  3. This process of comparison and movement continues until either the target element is found or the entire collection is exhausted.


Let's search for the value "25" in the unsorted list: [10, 4, 12, 25, 18, 7].

  • The search starts with the first element (10). Since 10 is not 25, we move on.
  • We compare the target (25) with the next element (4). There's no match, so we continue.
  • This process repeats until we reach the element "25" at index 3. The search is successful!


  • Easy to understand and implement, making it a good choice for beginners.
  • Works on unsorted data, offering flexibility in various situations.


  • Slow for large datasets. As the collection size grows, the search time increases proportionally, making it inefficient for massive datasets.

How it works :

2. Binary Search:

Binary search thrives on sorted data. Imagine searching for a specific word in a meticulously organized dictionary. Binary search works much faster than linear search in this scenario. It operates by repeatedly dividing the sorted collection in half. Here's the strategy:

  1. The algorithm starts by comparing the target element with the middle element of the collection.
  2. If the target element is equal to the middle element, the search is successful, and the algorithm returns the middle element's index.
  3. If the target element is less than the middle element, the search continues on the left half of the remaining collection (excluding the middle element).
  4. If the target element is greater than the middle element, the search continues on the right half of the remaining collection.
  5. Steps 1-4 are repeated on the narrowed-down half of the collection until the target element is found or the search space is reduced to a single element (which doesn't match the target).


Let's search for the value "18" in the sorted list: [4, 7, 10, 12, 18, 25].

  • The middle element is 12. Since 18 is greater than 12, we focus on the right half: [18, 25].
  • Now, the middle element of the right half is 18. We have a match! The target element is found at index 4.


  • Significantly faster than linear search for large sorted datasets. By eliminating half of the remaining elements with each comparison, binary search quickly narrows down the search space.


  • Requires the data to be sorted beforehand, adding an extra step if the data isn't already organized.
  • Not suitable for unsorted data. The binary search strategy relies on the sorted nature of the data to efficiently eliminate half of the possibilities during each iteration.

How it works :

2. Sorting Algorithms:

What is Sorting?

Sorting refers to rearrangement of a given array or list of elements according to a comparison operator on the elements. The comparison operator is used to decide the new order of elements in the respective data structure. Sorting means reordering of all the elements either in ascending or in descending order.


In computer science, a sorting algorithm is an algorithm that puts elements of a list into an order. The most frequently used orders are numerical order and lexicographical order, and either ascending or descending. Efficient sorting is important for optimizing the efficiency of other algorithms (such as search and merge algorithms) that require input data to be in sorted lists. Sorting is also often useful for canonicalizing data and for producing human-readable output.

Formally, the output of any sorting algorithm must satisfy two conditions:

The output is in monotonic order (each element is no smaller/larger than the previous element, according to the required order).

  1. The output is a permutation (a reordering, yet retaining all of the original elements) of the input.
  2. For optimum efficiency, the input data should be stored in a data structure which allows random access rather than one that allows only sequential access.

Summary : Sorting algorithms are a set of instructions that take an array or list as an input and arrange the items into a particular order. Sorts are most commonly in numerical or a form of alphabetical (or lexicographical) order, and can be in ascending (A-Z, 0-9) or descending (Z-A, 9-0) order.


  • In-place Sorting: Imagine rearranging your clothes in a drawer without taking everything out. In-place sorting works similarly. These algorithms sort the data by modifying the order of elements within the existing list itself, requiring minimal additional space. Examples include selection sort, bubble sort, and insertion sort.
  • Internal Sorting: This refers to sorting algorithms that operate entirely within the computer's main memory (RAM). The entire dataset can be loaded into memory at once, making it suitable for smaller to medium-sized datasets. Internal sorting algorithms like heap sort, bubble sort, and merge sort are commonly used for in-memory data manipulation.
  • External Sorting: When dealing with massive datasets that exceed the capacity of main memory, external sorting comes into play. These algorithms break the large dataset into smaller chunks, sort them on the disk (secondary storage), and then merge the sorted chunks back together in a specific order. Merge sort is a popular example of an external sorting algorithm.
  • Stable Sorting: Imagine sorting a list of books by title, but you also want to preserve the order in which books with the same title were originally listed. Stable sorting algorithms maintain the relative order of elements with equal keys (values) during sorting. Merge sort and insertion sort are examples of stable sorting algorithms.
  • Unstable Sorting: Not all sorting algorithms prioritize order preservation. Unstable sorting algorithms focus solely on achieving the desired sorting order (e.g., ascending or descending) and may shuffle the relative positions of elements with identical keys. Quick sort and heap sort are examples of unstable sorting algorithms.

Characteristics of Sorting Algorithms:

  • Time Complexity: This refers to how long it takes (in terms of steps or comparisons) for the sorting algorithm to complete its job. We typically analyze time complexity in three scenarios:

    • Worst-case: This represents the maximum amount of time the algorithm could take for a particular data size, considering the worst possible input scenario.
    • Average-case: This reflects the average time the algorithm takes across various random inputs of the same size.
    • Best-case: This represents the minimum amount of time the algorithm could take for a specific data size, considering the most favorable input scenario (e.g., data already partially sorted).
  • Space Complexity: This refers to the amount of additional memory the sorting algorithm needs to execute its operations beyond the space occupied by the original data. In-place sorting algorithms use minimal extra space by manipulating the data within the existing memory allocation, while some algorithms might require additional temporary storage during the sorting process.

  • Stability: This property determines whether the sorting algorithm preserves the original order of elements with equal values in the sorted output. Stable sorting algorithms maintain the relative positions of these elements, which can be important in specific applications. For example, if you're sorting a list of customer records by name, and two customers have the same name, you might want a stable sort to maintain the order in which they were originally listed (e.g., by account creation date).

  • In-place Sorting: As mentioned earlier, in-place sorting algorithms are memory-efficient as they sort the data by modifying the original list itself, requiring minimal extra space. This can be advantageous when dealing with large datasets or when memory is limited.

  • Adaptivity: Some sorting algorithms can adapt to the characteristics of the data they're sorting. An adaptive sorting algorithm can take advantage of pre-existing order in the data to improve its performance. For instance, if the data is already partially sorted, an adaptive algorithm might adjust its approach to leverage that partial order and achieve faster sorting.

Applications of Sorting Algorithms:

  • Searching Algorithms: Imagine searching for a specific contact in a phonebook. Sorting algorithms are the silent partners of efficient search algorithms like binary search. By ensuring the phonebook entries are organized alphabetically (sorted), binary search can locate your contact significantly faster than a linear search through an unsorted list.

  • Data Management: Data is the lifeblood of modern computing, but managing it effectively requires organization. Sorting algorithms play a vital role in data management. When you sort a list of files by name, date, or size, you're making it easier to find the specific file you need. Additionally, sorted data facilitates faster retrieval and analysis, saving you time and effort.

  • Database Optimization: Databases store vast amounts of information, from customer records to financial transactions. Sorting algorithms significantly improve the performance of database queries. When you search for a specific product in an e-commerce database, the database might sort the product list based on your search criteria (e.g., price) to deliver the most relevant results quickly.

  • Machine Learning: Machine learning algorithms learn from data to make predictions or classifications. However, the data needs to be prepared for effective learning. Sorting algorithms are often used in data preprocessing steps to organize and structure the data before feeding it into machine learning models. This can significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of the learning process.

  • Data Analysis: Data analysis is all about extracting insights from information. Sorting algorithms play a crucial role in this process. By sorting data by various attributes (e.g., date, location, customer demographics), you can identify patterns, trends, and outliers that might not be readily apparent in an unsorted dataset. This allows data analysts to gain deeper understanding from the data, informing better decision-making in various fields like finance, marketing, and scientific research.

  • Operating Systems: Operating systems manage the resources of your computer. Sorting algorithms find their way into various operating system tasks. For instance, sorting algorithms might be used to prioritize tasks for the CPU, manage memory allocation efficiently, or organize files in a directory structure, ensuring smooth operation of your computer system.

These are just a few examples of how sorting algorithms permeate our daily lives.

Simple explanation:

Imagine you have a messy bookshelf filled with books on various subjects. You want to organize them by genre (sorting them). Here's the main concept and logic behind a sorting algorithm applied to this scenario:

  1. Comparison: You take two books at a time and compare them based on their genre (like comparing two elements in a list).
  2. Swapping: If the genres are not in the desired order (e.g., a history book is placed before a novel), you swap their positions on the shelf (like rearranging elements in a list).
  3. Repeat: You continue comparing and swapping books two at a time until all the books are in the desired order by genre (all elements in the list are sorted according to the chosen criteria).

Sorting Algorithms::

1. Bubble Sort

Concept: Bubble sort is a straightforward sorting algorithm that iterates through a list, repeatedly comparing adjacent elements and swapping them if they're in the wrong order. Imagine bubbles rising to the surface of a liquid – elements with larger values "bubble" up the list with each pass. This process continues until no swaps are needed, signifying a sorted list.


Think of sorting a jumble of toys. Bubble sort works like this:

  1. Make Multiple Passes: You go through the list of toys multiple times.
  2. Compare Neighbors: In each pass, you compare each toy with its neighbor. If the first toy is bigger (or "higher" in sorting terms), you swap their positions.
  3. Bubbles Rise: With each swap, the larger toys (like bubbles) tend to move towards the end of the list.
  4. Continue Until No Swaps: You repeat these comparisons and swaps throughout the list until you make a complete pass with no swaps needed. This indicates the list is sorted.

Time Complexity: Unfortunately, bubble sort suffers from a time complexity of O(n^2) in both the worst and average cases. This means the sorting time increases quadratically with the number of elements (n). For large datasets, bubble sort becomes very inefficient.

2. Selection Sort

Concept: Selection sort also iterates through a list, but instead of comparing adjacent elements directly, it focuses on finding the minimum (or maximum for descending order) element within the unsorted portion. This element is then swapped with the first element in the unsorted portion, effectively putting it in its correct sorted position. The process repeats, progressively reducing the unsorted portion by one position at each pass.


Imagine arranging students for a photo based on height. Selection sort works like this:

  1. Find the Shortest (or Tallest): In each pass, you search the entire unsorted portion of the line to find the shortest student (or tallest for descending order).
  2. Swap with the First: Once you find the shortest student, you swap their position with the first student in the unsorted portion, effectively putting them in the correct sorted spot at the beginning of the line (shortest in front).
  3. Repeat and Reduce Unsorted Portion: You continue this process, treating the swapped element as the beginning of the sorted portion and searching for the minimum element within the remaining unsorted portion.

Time Complexity: Similar to bubble sort, selection sort also has a time complexity of O(n^2) in both the average and worst cases. This means the sorting time grows quadratically with the number of elements, making it inefficient for large datasets.

3. Insertion Sort

Concept: Insertion sort works by maintaining a sorted sub-list and iteratively inserting elements from the unsorted portion into their correct positions within the sub-list. Imagine building a tower out of blocks, but you can only add them one by one and want to keep the tower sorted by height. Insertion sort is like strategically placing each new block in its correct spot within the growing sorted tower.


Think of sorting books on a shelf by height. Insertion sort works like this:

  1. Start with a Single Sorted Element: You begin with an empty sorted sub-list (like having just one book on the shelf).
  2. Take an Element from the Unsorted Part: You pick a book from the unsorted pile.
  3. Shift and Insert: You compare the new book with each book in the sorted sub-list, starting from the right end. If the new book is shorter (or taller for descending order), you shift the existing books to make space and insert the new book at the correct position to maintain sorted order.
  4. Repeat and Grow the Sorted Sub-list: You continue this process, taking elements from the unsorted pile, comparing them with the sorted sub-list, and inserting them in the correct sorted position. This gradually grows the sorted sub-list until all elements are incorporated.

Time Complexity: Insertion sort shines for partially sorted data. In the average case for already somewhat sorted data, it boasts a time complexity of O(n), making it efficient. However, for entirely random data (worst case), it can fall back to O(n^2), similar to bubble and selection sort.

4. Merge Sort

Concept: Merge sort employs a clever "divide-and-conquer" strategy to efficiently sort a list. It breaks down the problem into smaller, more manageable sub-problems and then combines the solutions back together in a sorted order.


Imagine you have a large army to organize by height. Merging sort works like this:

  1. Divide: You split the army (list) into smaller and smaller groups (sub-lists) until each group has only one soldier (element). This is like breaking down a big problem into smaller, easier-to-solve pieces.
  2. Conquer: Since each sub-list now has just one soldier (element), it's already considered "sorted." This is the base case of the divide-and-conquer approach.
  3. Combine: Now comes the merging part. You strategically combine the sorted sub-lists back together, but in a specific way. You compare the first soldiers (elements) from each sub-list and place the shorter soldier (smaller element) into the final sorted list. You keep repeating this comparison and placement until all soldiers (elements) from both sub-lists are incorporated into the final sorted list.
  4. Repeat: You continue applying this divide, conquer, and combine strategy recursively until the entire original army (list) is sorted from shortest to tallest (smallest to largest).

Time Complexity: The beauty of merge sort lies in its time complexity. In the average and worst cases, it boasts a complexity of O(n log n). This means the time it takes to sort the list grows logarithmically with the number of elements (n), which is significantly faster than bubble, selection, or insertion sorts (whose complexity is O(n^2)).

5. Quick Sort

Concept: Quick sort is another divide-and-conquer sorting algorithm, but with a different approach. It relies on a strategically chosen element called the "pivot" to partition the list and conquer the sorting problem.


Imagine you have a bookshelf filled with books in disarray. Quick sort works like this:

  1. Choose a Pivot: You select a book (pivot) from the shelf. This pivot can be chosen in different ways, but often it's the first or last element in the list.
  2. Partition: You rearrange the books on the shelf based on the pivot. Books with genres alphabetically before the pivot's genre go on one side, and books with genres alphabetically after the pivot's genre go on the other side. The pivot itself isn't placed yet. This partitioning effectively divides the bigger sorting problem into two smaller sub-problems.
  3. Conquer Recursively: Now you treat each of the two sub-lists (piles of books) as separate sorting problems. You recursively apply the quick sort strategy to these sub-lists, selecting a new pivot for each and partitioning them accordingly.
  4. Combine: Once both sub-lists are sorted, you place the original pivot element in its correct sorted position between the two sub-lists. Now, the entire bookshelf (list) is sorted alphabetically.

Time Complexity: On average, quick sort also has a time complexity of O(n log n), making it very efficient for large datasets. However, its performance can vary depending on the chosen pivot element. A poorly chosen pivot (e.g., always the first or last element in a sorted or partially sorted list) can lead to the worst-case scenario of O(n^2), similar to bubble, selection, and insertion sorts.

3. Tree Traversal Algorithms:

What is Tree Traversal?

Tree traversal refers to a systematic method for exploring a tree data structure. It's like having a roadmap to visit every house (node) in a neighborhood (tree) exactly once, ensuring you don't get lost or revisit the same house. Unlike simpler data structures where you can access elements directly by position, trees require specific algorithms to navigate the connections between nodes. These traversal algorithms define the order in which you visit each node, allowing you to perform operations on the data they contain, such as searching for specific values, adding new nodes, or deleting existing ones. There are various traversal techniques, each with its strengths and applications, making tree traversal a fundamental concept in computer science.


A tree traversal, also known as tree searches, are algorithms executed on graphs containing only tree edges, that visit each node exactly once. Algorithms in this category differ only in the order in which each node is visited. Two classic methods to traverse a tree are breadth-first search (bfs), where nodes in the same level or distance away from the root are visited before proceeding to the next level; and depth-first-search, where all the nodes in a branch, or one set path from root to leaf, are visited before passing on to the next branch. Other methods exist that use heuristics or random sampling to move through a tree as a way to speed up the process.


  • Purpose: Systematic exploration of a tree data structure, ensuring each node is visited exactly once.
  • Benefits: Enables operations like searching for specific data, inserting new nodes, or deleting existing ones.
  • Key Differences: Algorithms categorize into two main approaches:
    • Breadth-First Search (BFS): Visits nodes level by level, starting from the root and progressing outward.
    • Depth-First Search (DFS): Explores one branch (path) as far as possible before backtracking and exploring another branch. Further variations of DFS exist for specific applications.
  • Additional Techniques: Other methods utilize heuristics or random sampling for faster traversal.


1. Tree: A hierarchical data structure that simulates an upside-down tree with nodes (data points) connected by edges (links). Nodes can have zero or more child nodes, forming branches, and ultimately leading to leaf nodes (nodes with no children) at the bottom.

2. Node: The fundamental building block of a tree, containing data and potentially references to its child nodes. Imagine a house in a neighborhood – it holds information (data) and connects to other houses (child nodes) through roads (edges).

3. Root Node: The topmost node in the tree, acting as the starting point for traversal algorithms. Think of it as the main house in the neighborhood, from where you begin exploring.

4. Leaf Node: A node with no child nodes, representing the "ends" of the branches in the tree. Imagine houses at the edge of the neighborhood, with no further connections.

5. Edge: The connection between two nodes in a tree, depicting the relationship between them. Think of the roads connecting houses in the neighborhood.

6. Traversal: The systematic process of visiting each node in a tree exactly once. It's like exploring the entire neighborhood, ensuring you visit every house without missing any or revisiting the same one.

7. Breadth-First Search (BFS): A traversal method that visits nodes level by level, starting from the root and progressing outward. Imagine exploring the neighborhood by visiting all houses on the first street (level) before moving on to the houses on the next street (level).

8. Depth-First Search (DFS): A traversal method that explores as far as possible along one branch (path) before backtracking and exploring another branch. Imagine exploring the neighborhood by following one road (branch) until you reach a dead end (leaf node), then backtracking and trying another road. Common variations of DFS include pre-order, in-order, and post-order, each with a specific order of visiting nodes within a branch.

Characteristics of Tree Traversal Algorithms:

1. Visiting Each Node Exactly Once:

  • The core principle of tree traversal is to ensure that every node in the tree is visited exactly once. This prevents redundant processing and ensures complete exploration of the tree structure.

2. Order of Visitation:

  • While each node is visited only once, the defining characteristic of tree traversal algorithms lies in the order they visit the nodes. Different algorithms prioritize exploring nodes in a specific sequence, leading to distinct traversal patterns.

3. Recursive vs. Iterative Implementation:

  • Tree traversal algorithms can be implemented either recursively or iteratively. Recursive approaches involve defining functions that call themselves on subtrees, mimicking the hierarchical nature of the tree. Iterative approaches utilize loops and stacks to manage the traversal process.

4. Time and Space Complexity:

  • Like any algorithm, tree traversal methods have associated time and space complexity. Time complexity refers to the amount of time it takes to execute the algorithm based on the number of nodes (n) in the tree. Common complexities include O(n) (linear) and O(n log n) (logarithmic), with BFS and DFS variations having different complexities depending on the implementation. Space complexity reflects the amount of extra memory needed for the algorithm to run, often depending on the data structures used for traversal (e.g., stacks).

5. Application-Specific Choice:

  • The choice of tree traversal algorithm depends heavily on the specific task at hand. For example, BFS might be preferred for finding the shortest path between two nodes in a tree, while DFS with variations can be used for searching specific data or exploring all possible paths.

6. Non-Modification:

  • In general, tree traversal algorithms are designed to explore the existing tree structure without modifying the tree itself. They visit nodes, perform operations on the data they contain, but typically don't alter the connections or data within the tree.

Applications of Tree Traversal Algorithms:

1. File System Navigation:

  • Operating systems use tree traversal algorithms to navigate directory structures on your computer. Imagine your file system as a tree, with folders as nodes and subfolders and files as child nodes. Breadth-first search (BFS) could be used to list all files within a directory and its subdirectories, while depth-first search (DFS) might be employed to locate a specific file within the hierarchy.

2. Web Crawling:

  • Search engines like Google utilize BFS or DFS variations to crawl the web. They start from a seed URL (root node) and explore linked web pages (child nodes) systematically. BFS ensures all pages at a specific level (website) are explored before moving to deeper levels, while DFS might delve deeper into a particular website before backtracking and exploring others.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI):

  • Game playing algorithms in AI often use tree traversal to explore possible moves and their outcomes. Imagine a chess game as a tree, with the current board state as the root node and potential moves as branches leading to new board states (child nodes). Depth-first search with pruning techniques can be used to evaluate potential moves and identify the most promising strategy.

4. Social Network Analysis:

  • Social media platforms leverage tree traversal to recommend connections or explore friend networks. Imagine your profile as a node, with friends as child nodes. Traversal algorithms can be used to suggest connections based on mutual friends (common ancestors in the tree) or explore the network to understand the flow of information or influence.

5. Computer Graphics:

  • Ray tracing, a technique used for realistic lighting effects in 3D graphics, often employs tree traversal algorithms. A virtual scene can be represented as a tree, with objects as nodes and their spatial relationships as edges. Traversal helps determine which objects a ray of light interacts with, creating realistic shadows and reflections.

6. Network Routing:

  • Routing protocols in computer networks use variations of tree traversal to find the optimal path for data packets to reach their destination. Imagine a network as a tree, with routers as nodes and connections as edges. Traversal algorithms help identify the most efficient path for data to travel between different points in the network.

Simple explanation:

Imagine you're a delivery person and you have a bunch of packages to deliver in a neighborhood. The houses in the neighborhood are connected by roads, forming a tree-like structure.

  • The houses are the nodes: Each house represents a node in the tree, containing information like the address (data) and potentially the addresses of its neighboring houses (child nodes) connected by roads (edges).
  • Your delivery route is the traversal: Tree traversal algorithms define the order in which you visit each house (node) to deliver the packages (perform operations on the data).

There are two main ways you could approach your deliveries, which correspond to two common tree traversal methods:

1. Breadth-First Search (BFS): Delivering like a widening circle:

  • You start at the very first house on your list (root node).
  • You deliver the package to that house, then visit all the houses directly connected to it (neighbors/child nodes) on the same street (level) before moving on.
  • Once you've delivered to all the houses on the first street (level), you move on to the next street (level) and repeat the process, visiting all houses on that level before going to the next.

This is like a widening circle – you start at the center (root) and gradually work your way outwards, ensuring you deliver to all houses on a street (level) before moving to the next one. This approach is useful if you want to prioritize delivering to all houses in a close area first, perhaps because they are all on the same block and minimizing travel time is important.

2. Depth-First Search (DFS): Taking a deep dive on one street:

  • You start at the first house on your list (root node).
  • You deliver the package to that house, then choose one of the connected roads (branches) leading out of that house and follow it all the way to the end (leaf node), delivering to all houses on that path (branch) before backtracking.
  • Once you reach the end of that road (branch), you backtrack to the last intersection (parent node) and choose another road (branch) to explore, delivering to all houses on that new path until you reach another dead end (leaf node).

This is like exploring a maze – you pick a path (branch) and follow it all the way through, delivering to houses along the way, until you hit a dead end (leaf node). Then you backtrack and try another path (branch) until all houses are reached. This approach can be useful if you're looking for a specific address quickly and want to explore one entire street (branch) before moving on to another.

Types of algorithms:

1. Breadth-First Search (BFS):

  • Concept: BFS visits nodes level by level, starting from the root node and progressing outward layer by layer. Imagine exploring a family tree; BFS would visit all siblings (nodes at the same level) before moving down to their children (next level).

  • How it Works:

    1. Start at the root node and add it to a queue (a data structure that follows a "first-in, first-out" principle).
    2. Remove the first node from the queue and visit it (process its data).
    3. Add all the unvisited child nodes of the removed node to the back of the queue.
    4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the queue is empty.
  • Example:

Consider a simple tree:

     / \
    B   C
   / \ / \
  D  E F  G
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

BFS traversal would visit the nodes in this order: A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

2. Depth-First Search (DFS):

  • Concept: DFS explores as far as possible along one branch (path) before backtracking and exploring another branch. There are further variations of DFS, but here we'll focus on a basic approach.

  • How it Works:

    1. Start at the root node.
    2. Visit the node (process its data).
    3. If there are any unvisited child nodes, choose one and repeat steps 2 and 3, essentially following that branch (path) until you reach a leaf node (a node with no children).
    4. Once you reach a leaf node, backtrack to the parent node and repeat step 3, exploring another unvisited child node (if any) of the parent.
    5. Continue backtracking and exploring until all nodes have been visited.
  • Example:

Using the same tree as before:

     / \
    B   C
   / \ / \
  D  E F  G
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DFS traversal could visit the nodes in various orders depending on which child node is chosen at each step. A possible order is: A, B, D, E, C, F, G.

Key Differences:

  • BFS emphasizes visiting nodes level by level, ensuring a broader exploration before diving deeper.
  • DFS prioritizes exploring one branch (path) completely before moving on to another, potentially reaching a specific node faster but not guaranteeing a level-by-level visit.

Conclusion :

In conclusion, this journey through basic algorithms has equipped you with a strong foundation for comprehending essential searching, sorting, and tree traversal techniques. The explanations utilized clear language and relatable analogies, making these abstract concepts more approachable and intuitive. Whether you're a seasoned programmer or just starting your foray into computer science, this understanding forms a cornerstone for building efficient and effective programs.

As your thirst for knowledge grows, delve even deeper! My repository, brimming with various algorithms and data structures, awaits your exploration (algorithms-data-structures). It's a treasure trove where you can experiment, practice, and solidify your grasp of these fundamental building blocks.

While some sections are still under construction, reflecting my own ongoing learning journey (a journey that will likely take 2-3 years to complete!), the repository is constantly evolving.

The adventure doesn't stop at exploration! I deeply value your feedback. Encounter roadblocks in the article? Have constructive criticism to share? Or simply want to ignite a conversation about algorithms? My door (or rather, my inbox) is always open. Reach out on Twitter:@m_mdy_m or Telegram: @m_mdy_m. Additionally, my GitHub account, m-mdy-m, welcomes discussions and contributions. Let's build a vibrant learning community together, where we share knowledge and push the boundaries of our understanding.

Top comments (9)

neotroyan profile image

Nicely done, my guy

ephygtz profile image

Beautifully done!

tungbq profile image
Tung Leo

Nice work, thanks 😊

essien1990 profile image
Nana Yaw

Nice work done. You have summarise it very simple.

m__mdy__m profile image

Thank you for your opinion
I write almost all my articles like this

kodmindset profile image
Emmanuel Awabil

Thanks a lot.

credentialedrss profile image
Steve Nordquist of C fix ambition

Oh snap, forgot to ever grow my thirst. Got to do that bit...

santoshsanty profile image

Nicely explain, can you do same for sorting algorithm please

m__mdy__m profile image

Hello, yes, I am writing an article
I have completed 90% of it, you can see it here before publishing it:
link article