Kind help with an algorithm or any refrence to enumerate all paths of length 3 in a given tree T in the shortest possible time.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like an interesting question. What did you try and where did you get stuck? $\endgroup$ – Juho Nov 26 '19 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ Does length=3 refer to the number of vertices or edges? $\endgroup$ – Albjenow Nov 26 '19 at 14:49

Let $T$ be a tree on $n$ vertices. Root $T$ in an arbitrary vertex $r$ and let $p(v)$ denote the parent of vertex $v \neq r$ in $T$. For $v \in V$, let $C(v)$ denote the children of $v$ in $T$.

A path $\langle v_1, v_2, v_3, v_4 \rangle$ of length $3$ in $T$ is of exactly one of the following two forms (when the path's traversal direction is ignored):

  • Type A: $p(v_1) = v_2$, $p(v_2) = v_3$, $p(v_3) = v_4$, or

  • Type B: $p(v_1)=p(v_3)=v_2$ and $p(v_4)=p(v_3)$.

To enumerate all paths of type $A$ it suffices to perform a DFS visit of $T$. When a vertex $v$ at depth at least $3$ is encountered, return the path $\langle v, p(v), p(p(v)), p(p(p(v))) \rangle$. This takes $O(n)$ time overall.

To enumerate all paths of type $B$, perform a DFS visit of $T$ and when a vertex $v$ at depth at least $2$ is encountered, return all the paths of the form $\langle v, p(v), p(p(v)), u \rangle$ where $u \in C(p(p(v))) \setminus \{ p(v) \}$. This requires time $O(n + P)$, where $P$ is the number of paths of type $B$ in $T$.

Overall you can enumerate all the paths of length $3$ in $T$ in time $O(n + P)$.

Notice that $\Omega(n)$ is a lower bound on the time needed by any algorithm since you need to read the input tree. A bad case in which $P=0$ but you still spend $\Theta(n)$ time is a star.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you Could you help with with method or link on how to find the diametrical path of a Tree $\endgroup$ – sriram Nov 27 '19 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ Right now I can only give the gist. But I'm sure you can find a description of how to solve that problem if you google. Anyway: Root the tree in an arbitrary vertex. Notice that there is a unique vertex of minimum depth in a diametral path $P$. Let this vertex be $v$. Then $P$ is the concatenation of two paths from $v$ to the deepest leaves in two distinct subtrees rooted in the children of $v$ (one or both of these paths might possibly be empty). Use a DFS visit to compute the length of such paths for all the nodes of $T$. This allows you to find $v$ and $P$. $\endgroup$ – Steven Nov 27 '19 at 22:34

I'm trying to solve it by white-gray-black DFS, but I failed to write the exact answer. But, this idea works: You can solve it easily by Adjacency Matrix Check this link:


Note: if we had repeated vertices, we shouldn't add it. Because in this case we had a cycle or repeated edges.

You can construct all paths of length 3 by this method.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you give a few more details why this solves the question? Just providing a link to a rather practical solution does not make a really good answer. $\endgroup$ – ttnick Nov 26 '19 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, you're right. I edited it and change the algorithm. $\endgroup$ – Sepehr omidvar Nov 26 '19 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ This will also find "paths" of the form a-b-a-b since "Paths don’t have to be simple i.e. vertices and edges can be visited any number of times in a single path." I suspect that is not what OP wants. $\endgroup$ – Albjenow Nov 26 '19 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you're right but this is a simple check: if we had repeated vertices, it's not appropriate answer and we shouldn't add it. $\endgroup$ – Sepehr omidvar Nov 27 '19 at 15:18

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