A binary heap is a heap data structure that takes the form of a binary tree. Binary heaps are a common way of implementing priority queues.: 162–163 The binary heap was introduced by J. W. J. Williams in 1964, as a data structure for heapsort.
A binary heap is defined as a binary tree with two additional constraints:
Heaps where the parent key is greater than or equal to (≥) the child keys are called max-heaps; those where it is less than or equal to (≤) are called min-heaps. Efficient (logarithmic time) algorithms are known for the two operations needed to implement a priority queue on a binary heap: inserting an element, and removing the smallest or largest element from a min-heap or max-heap, respectively. Binary heaps are also commonly employed in the heapsort sorting algorithm, which is an in-place algorithm because binary heaps can be implemented as an implicit data structure, storing keys in an array and using their relative positions within that array to represent child-parent relationships.
Both the insert and remove operations modify the heap to conform to the shape property first, by adding or removing from the end of the heap. Then the heap property is restored by traversing up or down the heap. Both operations take O(log n) time.
Steps 2 and 3, which restore the heap property by comparing and possibly swapping a node with its parent, are called the up-heap operation (also known as bubble-up, percolate-up, sift-up, trickle-up, swim-up, heapify-up, or cascade-up).
The number of operations required depends only on the number of levels the new element must rise to satisfy the heap property. Thus, the insertion operation has a worst-case time complexity of O(log n). For a random heap, and for repeated insertions, the insertion operation has an average-case complexity of O(1).
and we want to add the number 15 to the heap. We first place the 15 in the position marked by the X. However, the heap property is violated since 15 > 8, so we need to swap the 15 and the 8. So, we have the heap looking as follows after the first swap:
However the heap property is still violated since 15 > 11, so we need to swap again:
which is a valid max-heap. There is no need to check the left child after this final step: at the start, the max-heap was valid, meaning the root was already greater than its left child, so replacing the root with an even greater value will maintain the property that each node is greater than its children (11 > 5; if 15 > 11, and 11 > 5, then 15 > 5, because of the transitive relation).
The procedure for deleting the root from the heap (effectively extracting the maximum element in a max-heap or the minimum element in a min-heap) while retaining the heap property is as follows:
Steps 2 and 3, which restore the heap property by comparing and possibly swapping a node with one of its children, are called the down-heap (also known as bubble-down, percolate-down, sift-down, sink-down, trickle down, heapify-down, cascade-down, extract-min or extract-max, or simply heapify) operation.
Now the heap property is violated since 8 is greater than 4. In this case, swapping the two elements, 4 and 8, is enough to restore the heap property and we need not swap elements further:
The downward-moving node is swapped with the larger of its children in a max-heap (in a min-heap it would be swapped with its smaller child), until it satisfies the heap property in its new position. This functionality is achieved by the Max-Heapify function as defined below in pseudocode for an array-backed heap A of length length(A). Note that A is indexed starting at 1.
For the above algorithm to correctly re-heapify the array, no nodes besides the node at index i and its two direct children can violate the heap property. The down-heap operation (without the preceding swap) can also be used to modify the value of the root, even when an element is not being deleted.
In the worst case, the new root has to be swapped with its child on each level until it reaches the bottom level of the heap, meaning that the delete operation has a time complexity relative to the height of the tree, or O(log n).
Inserting an element then extracting from the heap can be done more efficiently than simply calling the insert and extract functions defined above, which would involve both an upheap and downheap operation. Instead, we can do just a downheap operation, as follows:
A similar function can be defined for popping and then inserting, which in Python is called "heapreplace":
The decrease key operation replaces the value of a node with a given value with a lower value, and the increase key operation does the same but with a higher value. This involves finding the node with the given value, changing the value, and then down-heapifying or up-heapifying to restore the heap property.
Building a heap from an array of n input elements can be done by starting with an empty heap, then successively inserting each element. This approach, called Williams’ method after the inventor of binary heaps, is easily seen to run in O(n log n) time: it performs n insertions at O(log n) cost each.[a]
The exact value of the above (the worst-case number of comparisons during the heap construction) is known to be equal to:
where s2(n) is the sum of all digits of the binary representation of n and e2(n) is the exponent of 2 in the prime factorization of n.
The Build-Max-Heap function that follows, converts an array A which stores a complete binary tree with n nodes to a max-heap by repeatedly using Max-Heapify (down-heapify for a max-heap) in a bottom-up manner. The array elements indexed by floor(n/2) + 1, floor(n/2) + 2, ..., n are all leaves for the tree (assuming that indices start at 1)—thus each is a one-element heap, and does not need to be down-heapified. Build-Max-Heap runs Max-Heapify on each of the remaining tree nodes.
Heaps are commonly implemented with an array. Any binary tree can be stored in an array, but because a binary heap is always a complete binary tree, it can be stored compactly. No space is required for pointers; instead, the parent and children of each node can be found by arithmetic on array indices. These properties make this heap implementation a simple example of an implicit data structure or Ahnentafel list. Details depend on the root position, which in turn may depend on constraints of a programming language used for implementation, or programmer preference. Specifically, sometimes the root is placed at index 1, in order to simplify arithmetic.
Let n be the number of elements in the heap and i be an arbitrary valid index of the array storing the heap. If the tree root is at index 0, with valid indices 0 through n − 1, then each element a at index i has
Alternatively, if the tree root is at index 1, with valid indices 1 through n, then each element a at index i has
This implementation is used in the heapsort algorithm, where it allows the space in the input array to be reused to store the heap (i.e. the algorithm is done in-place). The implementation is also useful for use as a Priority queue where use of a dynamic array allows insertion of an unbounded number of items.
The upheap/downheap operations can then be stated in terms of an array as follows: suppose that the heap property holds for the indices b, b+1, ..., e. The sift-down function extends the heap property to b−1, b, b+1, ..., e. Only index i = b−1 can violate the heap property. Let j be the index of the largest child of a[i] (for a max-heap, or the smallest child for a min-heap) within the range b, ..., e. (If no such index exists because 2i > e then the heap property holds for the newly extended range and nothing needs to be done.) By swapping the values a[i] and a[j] the heap property for position i is established. At this point, the only problem is that the heap property might not hold for index j. The sift-down function is applied tail-recursively to index j until the heap property is established for all elements.
The sift-down function is fast. In each step it only needs two comparisons and one swap. The index value where it is working doubles in each iteration, so that at most log2 e steps are required.
For big heaps and using virtual memory, storing elements in an array according to the above scheme is inefficient: (almost) every level is in a different page. B-heaps are binary heaps that keep subtrees in a single page, reducing the number of pages accessed by up to a factor of ten.
The operation of merging two binary heaps takes Θ(n) for equal-sized heaps. The best you can do is (in case of array implementation) simply concatenating the two heap arrays and build a heap of the result. A heap on n elements can be merged with a heap on k elements using O(log n log k) key comparisons, or, in case of a pointer-based implementation, in O(log n log k) time. An algorithm for splitting a heap on n elements into two heaps on k and n-k elements, respectively, based on a new view of heaps as an ordered collections of subheaps was presented in. The algorithm requires O(log n * log n) comparisons. The view also presents a new and conceptually simple algorithm for merging heaps. When merging is a common task, a different heap implementation is recommended, such as binomial heaps, which can be merged in O(log n).
Additionally, a binary heap can be implemented with a traditional binary tree data structure, but there is an issue with finding the adjacent element on the last level on the binary heap when adding an element. This element can be determined algorithmically or by adding extra data to the nodes, called "threading" the tree—instead of merely storing references to the children, we store the inorder successor of the node as well.
In an array-based heap, the children and parent of a node can be located via simple arithmetic on the node's index. This section derives the relevant equations for heaps with their root at index 0, with additional notes on heaps with their root at index 1.
To avoid confusion, we'll define the level of a node as its distance from the root, such that the root itself occupies level 0.
Every node is either the left or right child of its parent, so we know that either of the following is true.
Therefore, irrespective of whether a node is a left or right child, its parent can be found by the expression:
Since the ordering of siblings in a heap is not specified by the heap property, a single node's two children can be freely interchanged unless doing so violates the shape property (compare with treap). Note, however, that in the common array-based heap, simply swapping the children might also necessitate moving the children's sub-tree nodes to retain the heap property.