Algorithms and OOD (CSC 207 2013F) : Labs

Lab: Tree Traversal

Summary: In this laboratory, you will explore the traversal of trees. Although tree traversal can be used for all sorts of trees, you will ground your exploration in binary search trees.


If you have not done so, fork and clone the repository at (We have not updated that repository, so you need not pull changes.)


Exercise 1: Building a Tree

Consider the following set of instructions.

String[] values = new String[] { "monkey", "gibbon", "snake", "dingo",
        "koala", "python", "viper", "baboon", "frog", "hippo", "lemur",
        "orangutan", "rabbit", "tiger", "wombat", "aardvark", "chinchilla",
        "emu", "gnu" };
BST<Character,String> dict = new BST<Character,String>(new Comparator<Character>() {
    public int compare(Character left, Character right) {
        return left.compareTo(right);
    } // compare(Character, Character)
for (String value : values) {
   dict.set(value.charAt(0), value);
} // for

a. What tree do you expect these instructions to produce?

b. Write a program to check your answer experimentally.

Exercise 2: Alternate Output

Suppose instead of printing the tree in the deeply nested form, we want to print the elements of the tree on a single (very long) line, but in more or less the same order that we get from dump.

monkey gibbon dingo baboon ....

Clearly, we could just modify the wonderfully recursive dump procedure to get this output. But dump is recursive. What if we can't use recursion?

Sketch, but do not implement, an algorithm to print all the values in the tree without using explicit recursion.

Exercise 3: Printing Elements

Consider the following potential solution to the previous exercise.

 * Print all of the elements in some order or other.
 * Note: We are trying to avoid recursion.
public void print(PrintWriter pen) {
    // A collection of the remaining things to print
    Stack<Object> remaining = new Stack<Object>();
    // Invariants: 
    //   remaining only contains Strings or BSTNodes
    //   All key/value pairs in the tree are either
    //     (a) already printed
    //     (b) in remaining
    //     (c) in or below a node in remaining
    while (!remaining.isEmpty()) {
        Object next = remaining.pop();
        if (next instanceof String) {
            pen.print(" ");
        } else {
            // next must be a BSTNode
            BSTNode node = (BSTNode) next;
            if (node.larger != null) {
            } // if (node.larger != null)
            if (node.smaller != null) {
            } // if (node.smaller != null)
        } // if it's a node
    } // while
} // print(PrintWriter)

a. How does this code achieve the goal of achieving recursive traversal without actually recursing?

b. In what order do you expect it to print the values in the tree?

c. Add this code to your program and verify that it works. If it does not, fix it.

Exercise 4: Other Orderings

The traversal strategy current implemented in print is what is typically called preorder, depth-first, left-to-right traversal. It is “preorder” because we print/visit a node before we visit its children. It is “depth-first” because we go deep down into the tree before we go across a particular level. And it is “left-to-right” for obvious reasons.

Suppose we want to do inorder traversal, in which we print the value of a node between the children. (That is, we print the left subtree, then the node, then the right subtree.)

a. In what order would you expect to see the values printed? (You only need list the first six or so.)

b. What changes do we have to make to the code to achieve that goal?

c. Check your answer experimentally.

d. What changes do we need to make in order to achieve postorder traversal, in which we print the value of a node after the children?

e. What changes do we need to make in order to achieve right-to-left traversal?

Exercise 5: Breadth-First Traversal

So far, we've only explored depth-first traversal. But what if we want to do breadth-first traveral, wherein we visit/print all of the values at a particular level before going on to the next level?

a. Sketch what changes you would make to print to get it to print the values in a top-down, left-to-right, breadth-first traversal. (Hint: You probably don't want to use a stack any more.)

b. Implement those changes.

For Those With Extra Time

If you find that you have extra time, try any of the following problems.

Extra 1: Numbering Levels

Extend your breadth-first traversal algorithm so that each time it reaches a new level, it prints a new line and the level number 0 for the root, 1 for the children of the root, 2 for the grandchildren, etc.). (It's okay if you print one extra level number at the end, even if there are no values at that level.)

0: monkey
1: gibbon snake
2: dingo koala python viper

Extra 2: Bottom-Up Traversal

Your breadth-first traversal algorithm should start at the top and work its way down. Rewrite the algorithm so that it prints the tree from the bottom up.

Copyright (c) 2013 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.