In a B-Tree, one of the rules is:

Every node (except the root) is at least half full

But then, in a 4-way B-Tree, we have the following case. Suppose we want to insert $10,20,30,40$ to the tree.

After inserting the 3 first element we get the following root:

  [10  20  30]

After adding the 40, we split as follows:

[10 20]       [40]

For a node to be half full in a m-way B-Tree there must be in that node $\lceil \frac{m}{2} \rceil$ elements. So there must be 2 elements in every node, but the node $[40]$ clearly breaks this rule! So why is this allowed and what should we do?

B-Tree is seriously confusing me and i couldn't find any answers online.

  • $\begingroup$ Why would you split when adding $40$ ? $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2022 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


According to wikipedia, the condition of being half-full only applies on internal nodes, and it concerns the number of children, not the number of keys (which is always one less than the number of children, except for leaves).

In your example, the node [40] is a leaf, therefore the half-full property does not apply.

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by the number of children and not the number of keys? Does it mean that in a node there's no minimum on how many keys (elements) must be in it? Like it is legal for any node to have any number of elements ranging from 1 to m-1? $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 22:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ShinobiSan As I said, the number of keys is always one less than the number of children, so no, you do not have complete freedom. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Nov 16, 2022 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ You mean the maximum number of keys that a node can contain is one less than the number of children, but how about the minimum? $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 22:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No, I mean that if $k$ is the number of children of a node, then the EXACT number of keys that node contains is ALWAYS $k-1$. Not any more or any less. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Nov 16, 2022 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ Please at least read the wikipedia article, it is well done so you will learn things about B-trees. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Nov 16, 2022 at 22:38

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