Binary Search Tree And Real-world Applications

Minh-Phuc Tran

Minh-Phuc Tran on Nov 15, 2020





A binary search tree (BST) is a binary tree data structure that has

  • The left subtree of a node contains only nodes with values less than the node's value.

  • The right subtree of a node contains only nodes with values greater than the node's value.

  • The left and right subtree each is a binary search tree, too.

Binary Tree (Image's source: GeeksForGeeks)

Real-world Applications

3D game engines

Almost every 3D engine uses BST to determine which objects should be rendered in a 3D world, which is basically buffering Z orders instead of recalculating complex 3D positioning on every render.

It's famously used in Doom 1993 as the first time a BST had even been used in a game.

Doom (Image's source: Wikipedia)


To efficiently parse syntax expressions (e.g. programming languages), compilers use a special BST called syntax tree.

Syntax tree (Image's source: Wikipedia)

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