# 14.3. Graph Traversals¶

## 14.3.1. Graph Traversals¶

Many graph applications need to visit the vertices of a graph in some specific order based on the graph’s topology. This is known as a graph traversal and is similar in concept to a tree traversal. Recall that tree traversals visit every node exactly once, in some specified order such as preorder, inorder, or postorder. Multiple tree traversals exist because various applications require the nodes to be visited in a particular order. For example, to print a BST’s nodes in ascending order requires an inorder traversal as opposed to some other traversal. Standard graph traversal orders also exist. Each is appropriate for solving certain problems. For example, many problems in artificial intelligence programming are modeled using graphs. The problem domain might consist of a large collection of states, with connections between various pairs of states. Solving this sort of problem requires getting from a specified start state to a specified goal state by moving between states only through the connections. Typically, the start and goal states are not directly connected. To solve this problem, the vertices of the graph must be searched in some organized manner.

Graph traversal algorithms typically begin with a start vertex and attempt to visit the remaining vertices from there. Graph traversals must deal with a number of troublesome cases. First, it might not be possible to reach all vertices from the start vertex. This occurs when the graph is not connected. Second, the graph might contain cycles, and we must make sure that cycles do not cause the algorithm to go into an infinite loop.

Graph traversal algorithms can solve both of these problems
by flagging vertices as `VISITED`

when appropriate.
At the beginning of the algorithm, no vertex is flagged as `VISITED`

.
The flag for a vertex is set when the vertex is first visited
during the traversal.
If a flagged vertex is encountered during traversal, it is not visited
a second time.
This keeps the program from going into an infinite loop when it
encounters a cycle.

Once the traversal algorithm completes, we can check to see if all
vertices have been processed by checking whether they have the
`VISITED`

flag set.
If not all vertices are flagged,
we can continue the traversal from another unvisited vertex.
Note that this process works regardless of whether the graph is
directed or undirected.
To ensure visiting all vertices, `graphTraverse`

could be called
as follows on a graph \(\mathbf{G}\):

```
static void graphTraverse(Graph G) {
int v;
for (v=0; v<G.nodeCount(); v++) {
G.setValue(v, null); // Initialize
}
for (v=0; v<G.nodeCount(); v++) {
if (G.getValue(v) != VISITED) {
doTraversal(G, v);
}
}
}
```

Function `doTraversal`

might be implemented by using
one of the graph traversals described next.

### 14.3.1.1. Depth-First Search¶

Our first method for organized graph traversal is called depth-first search (DFS). Whenever a vertex \(v\) is visited during the search, DFS will recursively visit all of \(v\) ‘s unvisited neighbors. Equivalently, DFS will add all edges leading out of \(v\) to a stack. The next vertex to be visited is determined by popping the stack and following that edge. The effect is to follow one branch through the graph to its conclusion, then it will back up and follow another branch, and so on. The DFS process can be used to define a depth-first search tree. This tree is composed of the edges that were followed to any new (unvisited) vertex during the traversal, and leaves out the edges that lead to already visited vertices. DFS can be applied to directed or undirected graphs.

This visualization shows a graph and the result of performing a DFS on it, resulting in a depth-first search tree.

Here is an implementation for the DFS algorithm.

```
static void DFS(Graph G, int v) {
PreVisit(G, v);
G.setValue(v, VISITED);
int[] nList = G.neighbors(v);
for (int i=0; i< nList.length; i++) {
if (G.getValue(nList[i]) != VISITED) {
DFS(G, nList[i]);
}
}
PostVisit(G, v);
}
```

This implementation contains calls to functions `PreVisit`

and
`PostVisit`

.
These functions specify what activity should take place during the
search.
Just as a preorder tree traversal requires action before the subtrees
are visited, some graph traversals require that a vertex be processed
before ones further along in the DFS.
Alternatively, some applications require activity *after* the
remaining vertices are processed; hence the call to function
`PostVisit`

.
This would be a natural opportunity to make use of the
visitor design pattern.

The following visualization shows a random graph each time that you start it, so that you can see the behavior on different examples. It can show you DFS run on a directed graph or an undirected graph. Be sure to look at an example for each type of graph.

DFS processes each edge once in a directed graph. In an undirected graph, DFS processes each edge from both directions. Each vertex must be visited, but only once, so the total cost is \(\Theta(|\mathbf{V}| + |\mathbf{E}|)\).

Here is an exercise for you to practice DFS.

## 14.3.2. Breadth-First Search¶

Our second graph traversal algorithm is known as a breadth-first search (BFS). BFS examines all vertices connected to the start vertex before visiting vertices further away. BFS is implemented similarly to DFS, except that a queue replaces the recursion stack. Note that if the graph is a tree and the start vertex is at the root, BFS is equivalent to visiting vertices level by level from top to bottom.

This visualization shows a graph and the result of performing a BFS on it, resulting in a breadth-first search tree.

Here is an implementation for BFS.

```
static void BFS(Graph G, int v) {
LQueue Q = new LQueue(G.nodeCount());
Q.enqueue(v);
G.setValue(v, VISITED);
while (Q.length() > 0) { // Process each vertex on Q
v = (Integer)Q.dequeue();
PreVisit(G, v);
int[] nList = G.neighbors(v);
for (int i=0; i< nList.length; i++) {
if (G.getValue(nList[i]) != VISITED) { // Put neighbors on Q
G.setValue(nList[i], VISITED);
Q.enqueue(nList[i]);
}
}
PostVisit(G, v);
}
}
```

The following visualization shows a random graph each time that you start it, so that you can see the behavior on different examples. It can show you BFS run on a directed graph or an undirected graph. Be sure to look at an example for each type of graph.

Here is an exercise for you to practice BFS.