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Segment Trees

with 19 comments

A segment tree is a heap-like data structure that can be used for making update/query operations upon array intervals in logarithmical time. We define the segment tree for the interval [i, j] in the following recursive manner:

  • the first node will hold the information for the interval [i, j]
  • if i<j the left and right son will hold the information for the intervals [i, (i+j)/2] and [(i+j)/2+1, j]

See the picture below to understand more :

Segment Tree

Segment Tree

We can use segment trees to solve Range Minimum/Maximum Query Problems (RMQ). The time complexity is T(N, log N) where O(N) is the time required to build the tree and each query takes O(log N) time. Here’s a C++ template implementation :

using namespace std;

template<class T>
class SegmentTree
     int *A,size;
     SegmentTree(int N)
          int x = (int)(ceil(log2(N)))+1;
          size = 2*(int)pow(2,x);
          A = new int[size];
     void initialize(int node, int start,
                         int end, T *array)

          if (start==end)
             A[node] = start;
              int mid = (start+end)/2;
              if (array[A[2*node]]<=
                 A[node] = A[2 * node];
                  A[node] = A[2 * node + 1];
     int query(int node, int start,
                   int end, int i, int j, T *array)
         int id1,id2;
         if (i>end || j<start)
            return -1;

         if (start>=i && end<=j)
            return A[node];

         int mid = (start+end)/2;
         id1 = query(2*node,start,mid,i,j,array);
         id2 = query(2*node+1,mid+1,end,i,j,array);

         if (id1==-1)
            return id2;
         if (id2==-1)
            return id1;

         if (array[id1]<=array[id2])
            return id1;
             return id2;

int main()
    int i,j,N;
    int A[1000];
    for (i=0;i<N;i++)

    SegmentTree<int> s(N);
    while (scanf("%d%d",&i,&j)!=EOF)


  1. Topcoder Tutorial



Written by fR0DDY

September 15, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Posted in Programming

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

19 Responses

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  1. Hey, nice tut. If u add a tutorial for updating the values in segment tree, it will be great!


    September 18, 2010 at 12:34 PM

  2. when i five n= 800 in input then this code crashes.
    please help


    October 13, 2010 at 8:53 AM

  3. please add the nessary discription about n,A[i]. and also add the necassary printf statements . please reply immediately


    November 12, 2010 at 7:22 PM

  4. could u plzzz add a good tutorial on binary indexed tree as they r easy to code????

    aayush kumar

    June 9, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    • fR0DDY

      June 9, 2011 at 8:30 PM

      • Hi I Don’t Understand Whats the application of segment tree ? i mean if we can search the element in given range of sorted array in O(logn) then why we need such complex DS or m i missing sum-thing so do u mean we can find the elements in unsorted array in O(logn) is it so .?? as Heap can unsorted array as 5 4 3 1 2 isn’t it .?? also please explain the in detail the initialize & query part & also write update part as you have mentioned..i am really interest in algorithms & so i wants to know what we can do with segment tree once you will reply my question i will really look & analyze it…i mean really really interested & appreciate ur attempt.

        i mean when i m giving input for i & j 0 ,5 or i=0 & j=1 to 9 for N=10 array then i am getting output of query is 0 m not getting what exactly query function is doing ?? whats the purpose of it does it s giving element in range or its searching particular element & returning that element.

        Reply ASAP.


        June 12, 2011 at 10:08 PM

      • It can be used to find maximum/minimum element in a range of an unsorted array. Also between the queries also, you can update any element.


        June 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM

  5. Bugs in the code above.
    -> log is logarithm to the base 10, whereas log to the base 2 should be used.
    -> only the position should be returned in line numbers 50,52,55,57.

    To verify the bug run the code with the following input
    N = 8
    array = { 1, 2, 0, -1, 5, 5, 5, 5 }
    first i,j -> 1 2 ( gives correct output of 0 )
    second i,j -> 3 4 (gives incorrect output of 0)


    October 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    • This is the output for this case- remember output is minimum element 🙂

      1 2 0 -1 5 5 5 5
      1 2
      3 4

      shashank jain

      August 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

  6. It would be better if in the tree initialization N = 2^X, you would get faster solution. Your current solution would get TL on some test cases… I don’t remeber testcases, but I promise you that N should be equal 2^x 🙂


    February 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM

  7. Nice tutorial, I also wanted to know about updation of segment trees. How is it achieved? Can you explain a little more?


    June 18, 2012 at 8:54 AM

  8. hey how to implement if i need all intervals with 0<=i<j<n
    like for eg in the above tree i need to fint the max from the interval [1,8]


    December 9, 2012 at 2:55 AM

  9. I beleive the time complexity of construction the segment tree is $O(n\log n)$.


    February 23, 2013 at 9:51 PM

  10. There’s a small bug, not so important yet proves pain in neck if tested under certain input ranges. For very large range say 1 to 100000. The Query function goes so deep in recursion that it exceeds the recursion depth & hence will result as “Segmentation Fault”. I’ve tried it locally on my machine and on online competition too to verify.

    Ravi Ojha

    May 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM

  11. […] […]

  12. […] p– […]

    Segment Trees - Lazy Updates

    December 10, 2013 at 10:03 PM

  13. hey it fails to be in ti,e limit if no of queries ranges to 10^8…… some more better approach required …..


    April 13, 2015 at 1:45 AM

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