# Write The Shortest Program to Calculate Height of a Binary Tree

The height of a binary tree is the distance from the root node to the node child that is farthest from the root.

Below is an example:

           2 <-- root: Height 1
/ \
7   5 <-- Height 2
/ \   \
2   6   9 <-- Height 3
/ \  /
5  11 4 <-- Height 4


Height of binary tree: 4

Definition of a Binary Tree

A tree is an object that contains a signed integer value and either two other trees or pointers to them.

The structure of the binary tree struct looks something like the following:

typedef struct tree
{
struct tree * l;

struct tree * r;

int v;

} tree;


The challenge:

Input

The root of a binary tree

Output

The number that represents the height of a binary tree

Assuming you are given the root of a binary tree as input, write the shortest program that calculates the height of a binary tree and returns the height. The program with least amount of bytes (accounting whitespaces) wins.

• What do languages without pointers take? Aug 4, 2019 at 17:37
• ...but then my tree object could just have a property, say h. Might be better to define a specific structure made just of lists for the purpose of this challenge. Aug 4, 2019 at 17:40
• @T.Salim In the future, please consider posting in the sandbox first. Aug 4, 2019 at 17:44
• So, is a valid representation a list of length 3 [root_value, left_node, right_node] where each of left_node and right_node are also binary trees acceptable? It'll be trivial in many languages, but might be fun in some others. Aug 4, 2019 at 17:50
• Can you edit the question to include what constitutes a valid binary structure? Perhaps a definition like a tree is an object that contains a value and either two other trees or pointers to them. A definition that is inclusive of languages without objects would also be nice too.
– Jo King
Aug 4, 2019 at 21:54

# Jelly, 3 bytes

ŒḊ’


A monadic Link accepting a list representing the tree: [root_value, left_tree, right_tree], where each of left_tree and right_tree are similar structures (empty if need be), which yields the height.

Try it online!

### How?

Pretty trivial in Jelly:

ŒḊ’ - Link: list, as described above
ŒḊ  - depth
’ - decremented (since leaves are [value, [], []])

• Jonathon Allen, that is an interesting language you are using. As a newcomer, may you provide a link or a website referral that tutors people how to use Jelly? Aug 4, 2019 at 17:53
• Click the link in the header - it's a golfing Language developed by Dennis, one of the site's moderators. Aug 4, 2019 at 17:56
• I wonder how controversial it would be to represent a leaf as x instead of [x, [], []]... Aug 4, 2019 at 18:19
• @EriktheOutgolfer To keep with the "pointer" and "struct" nature of the question I think every node should be of the same form. Aug 4, 2019 at 18:28

# Python 2,  35  33 bytes

Thanks to Arnauld for noicing an oversight and saving 4.

f=lambda a:a>[]and-~max(map(f,a))


A recursive function accepting a list representing the tree: [root_value, left_tree, right_tree], where each of left_tree and right_tree are similar structures (empty if need be), which returns the height.

Try it online!

Note that [] will return False, but in Python False==0.

• The same person is allowed to give two different answers to the same question? Aug 4, 2019 at 18:36
• Yeah, of course, golf is a competition at a language level. Even a second entry in the same language is sometimes acceptable, if the approach is very different. Aug 4, 2019 at 18:39
• @Arnauld Guess so (I'd assumed non-integers might be present for some reason) Aug 4, 2019 at 18:46

# 05AB1E, 117 5 bytes

Δ€}N


-4 bytes thanks to @ExpiredData.
-2 bytes thanks to @Grimy.

Input format is similar as the Jelly answer: a list representing the tree: [root_value, left_tree, right_tree], where each of left_tree and right_tree are similar structures (optionally empty). I.e. [2,[7,[2,[],[]],[6,[5,[],[]],[11,[],[]]]],[5,[],[9,[4,[],[]],[]]]] represents the tree from the challenge description.

Explanation:

Δ     # Loop until the (implicit) input-list no longer changes:
€  #  Flatten the list one level
}N    # After the loop: push the 0-based index of the loop we just finished
# (which is output implicitly as result)


Note that although 05AB1E is 0-based, the changes-loop Δ causes the output index to be correct, because it needs an additional iteration to check it no longer changes.

• 7 bytes? Aug 5, 2019 at 10:01
• @ExpiredData Ah, of course.. Thanks! :) Aug 5, 2019 at 10:04
• 5 bytes Aug 19, 2019 at 13:05
• @Grimy I thought using the index outside a loop only worked in the legacy code.. :S Thanks! Aug 19, 2019 at 13:10

h L=0
h(N l r _)=1+max(h l)(h r)


Using the custom tree type data T = L | N T T Int, which is the Haskell equivalent of the C struct given in the challenge.

Try it online!

# Perl 6, 25 bytes

{($_,{.[*;*]}...*eqv*)-2}  Input is a 3-element list (l, r, v). The empty tree is the empty list. Try it online! ### Explanation { } # Anonymous block , ... # Sequence constructor$_  # Start with input
{.[*;*]}  # Compute next element by flattening one level
# Sadly *[*;*] doesn't work for some reason
*eqv*  # Until elements doesn't change
(                   )-2  # Size of sequence minus 2


### Old solution, 30 bytes

{+$_&&1+max map &?BLOCK,.[^2]}  Try it online! • The &?BLOCK trick is interesting but it's a couple of bytes shorter to assign the block to$!
– Jo King
Aug 4, 2019 at 21:49
• @JoKing I don't know. Storing the challenge solution in a volatile global like $! or $/ feels like cheating to me. Aug 4, 2019 at 21:56
• (Ab)using variables like $! and$/ is fairly standard practice for golfing P6. Aug 6, 2019 at 4:47

# JavaScript (ES6),  35  33 bytes

Input structure: [[left_node], [right_node], value]

f=([a,b])=>a?1+f(f(a)>f(b)?a:b):0


Try it online!

### Commented

f =                       // f is a recursive function taking
([a, b]) =>               // a node of the tree split into
// a[] = left child, b[] = right child (the value is ignored)
a ?                     // if a[] is defined:
1 +                   //   increment the final result for this branch
f(a) > f(b) ? a : b //     f(a) if f(a) > f(b) or f(b) otherwise
)                     //
:                       // else:
0                     //   stop recursion and return 0

• Looks like you can save a byte with a&&-~. Aug 4, 2019 at 23:03
• @Shaggy That would lead to comparisons with undefined. Aug 4, 2019 at 23:12

# C, 43 bytes

h(T*r){r=r?1+(int)fmax(h(r->l),h(r->r)):0;}


Structure of binary tree is the following:

typedef struct tree
{
struct tree * l;

struct tree * r;

int v;

} tree;

• 55 bytes Try it online! Some C-specific golfing tricks are here! Aug 4, 2019 at 20:41
• @ErikF Or 45 bytes Aug 4, 2019 at 20:46
• 43 bytes Aug 4, 2019 at 21:36
– Jo King
Aug 4, 2019 at 22:20
• Building on @nwellnhof 42 bytes Sep 27, 2019 at 18:05

# JavaScript (Node.js), 32 bytes

f=a=>/,,/.test(a)&&f(a.flat())+1


Try it online!

Using the name flat instead of flatten or smoosh is a great idea for code golf.

Using [] for null node in the tree, and [left, right, value] for nodes. value here is an integer.

# Wolfram Language (Mathematica), 10 bytes

Depth@#-2&


Try it online! Takes input as a nested list {v, l, r}.

• If 2[7[2,6[5,11]],5[9[4,],]] is a valid representation of the tree, Depth works
– att
Aug 15, 2019 at 23:50

Using the following data definition:

data T a = (:&) a [T a]


The height is:

h(_:&x)=foldr(max.succ.h)0 x


# Scheme, 72 Bytes

(define(f h)(if(null? h)0(+ 1(max(f(car(cdr h)))(f(car(cdr(cdr h))))))))


(define (f h)
(if (null? h)
0
(+ 1
(max
(f (car (cdr h)))
(f (car (cdr (cdr h))))
)
)
)
)


Using lists of the form (data, left, right) to represent a tree. E.g.

   1
/ \
2  3
/\
4 5

is represented as: (1 (2 (4 () ()) (5 () ())) (3 () ())

(1
(2
(4 () ())
   (5 () ())
(3 () ())
)


# R, 51 bytes

function(L){while(is.list(L<-unlist(L,F)))T=T+1;+T}


Try it online!

• Input: a nested list in the format : list(ROOT_ELEMENT, LEFT_TREE, RIGHT_TREE)

• Algorithm: Iteratively flattens the tree by one level until it becomes a flat vector : the iterations count corresponds to the max depth.

Inspired by @KevinCruijssen solution

Recursive alternative :

# R, 64 bytes

~=function(L,d=0)'if'(is.list(L),max(L[]~d+1,L[]~d+1),d)


Try it online!

Redefines the function/operator '~' making it able to compute the max depth of a tree stored in a list structure.

The list structure of a tree is in the format : list(ROOT_ELEMENT, LEFT_TREE, RIGHT_TREE)

• -2 thanks to @Giuseppe
• why do you use d=1 and then d-1 at the end? Couldn't you start at 0? Aug 5, 2019 at 16:34
• Also I switched > to ~ here so the test cases are easier to input Aug 5, 2019 at 16:34
• @Giuseppe: of course...I was missing the obvious 🤦‍♂️ Aug 5, 2019 at 20:48

# Japt, 8 bytes

@eU=c1}a


Try it

## Original, 9 bytes

Î©¡ÒßXÃrw


Try it

# Kotlin, 45 bytes

val Tree.h:Int get()=1+maxOf(l?.h?:0,r?.h?:0)


Assuming the following class is defined

class Tree(var v: Int, var l: Tree? = null, var r: Tree? = null)


Try it online

# K (ngn/k), 4 bytes

Solution:

#,/\


Try it online!

Explanation:

I think I may have missed the point.

Representing a tree as the 3-item list (parent-node;left-child;right-child), the example can be represented as

(2;
(7;
(,2);
(6;
(,5);
(,11)
)
);
(5;
();
(9;
(,4);
()
)
)
)


or: (2;(7;(,2);(6;(,5);(,11)));(5;();(9;(,4);()))).

So the solution is to iteratively flatten, and count the iterations:

#,/\ / the solution
\ / iterate
,/  / flatten
#    / count


# Charcoal, 29 bytes

⊞θ⁰⊞υθＦυ«≔⊕⊟ιθＦΦι∧κλ⊞υ⊞Ｏκθ»Ｉθ


Try it online! Link is to verbose version of code. Temporarily modifies the tree during processing. Explanation:

⊞θ⁰


Push zero to the root node.

⊞υθ


Push the root node to the list of all nodes.

Ｆυ«


Perform a breadth-first search of the tree.

≔⊕⊟ιθ


Get the depth of this node.

ＦΦι∧κλ


Loop over any child nodes.

⊞υ⊞Ｏκθ


Tell the child node its parent's depth and push it to the list of all nodes.

»Ｉθ


Once all the nodes have been traversed print the depth of the last node. Since the traversal was breadth-first, this will be the height of the tree.

# Stax, 5 bytes

▐▌µ╡⌂


Run and debug it

Stax has neither pointers nor null values, so I represent the input like [2,[7,[2,[],[]],[6,[5,[],[]],[11,[],[]]]],[5,[],[9,[4,[],[]],[]]]]. Maybe that's an unfair advantage, but it was the closest I could get.

Unpacked, ungolfed, and commented, the code looks like this.

        The input starts on top of the input stack
Z       Tuck a zero underneath the top value in the stack.  Both values end up on the main stack.
D       Drop the first element from array
F       For each remaining element (the leaves) run the rest of the program
G^    Recursively call the entire program, then increment
T     Get maximum of the two numbers now ow the stack


Run this one

# Julia, 27 bytes

f(t)=t≢()&&maximum(f,t.c)+1


With the following struct representing the binary tree:

struct Tree
c::NTuple{2,Union{Tree,Tuple{}}}
v::Int
end


c is a tuple representing the left and right nodes and the empty tuple () is used to signal the absence of a node.

# Kotlin, 42 bytes

fun N.c():Int=maxOf(l?.c()?:0,r?.c()?:0)+1


Try it online!

Where

data class N(val l: N? = null, val r: N? = null, val v: Int = 0)


# Jq, 18 bytes

Takes input as [Value, Left, Right] or any permutation of this.

[paths|length]|max

paths             # for each path as a list of indexes to follow
# to get to an element or array inside the input
# e.g. [0,2,1] to represent array
|length      # its length
[            ]     # collect into an array
|max # the maximum of this array
`

jq play it!