Introduction to B-Trees

Introduction to B-Trees

A B-Tree is a self-balancing tree data structure that maintains sorted data and allows for efficient insertion, deletion, and search operations. B-Trees are widely used in databases and file systems to store large amounts of data that cannot fit entirely into memory.

Simple Example

Consider a B-Tree of order 3 with the following structure:

         [10 | 20]
        /    |    \
   [5]   [15]   [25 | 30 | 35]

In this B-Tree, each node can have at most 3 children and can contain at most 2 keys. The tree is balanced, and all leaves are at the same level.

Properties of B-Trees

B-Trees have several important properties:

  • Balanced Tree: B-Trees are balanced, meaning the path from the root to any leaf has the same length.
  • Order (M): The order of a B-Tree is defined as the maximum number of children each node can have. A node in a B-Tree of order M can have at most M-1 keys and at most M children.
  • Node Structure: Each node contains a set of keys and pointers to its children. The keys within a node are sorted in ascending order.
  • Height: The height of a B-Tree is logarithmic relative to the number of keys stored, ensuring efficient operations.
  • Dynamic Growth: B-Trees grow and shrink dynamically as keys are inserted and deleted, maintaining their balanced structure.

Python Code to Implement a B-Tree

class BTreeNode:
    def __init__(self, t, leaf=False):
        self.t = t  # Minimum degree (defines the range for number of keys)
        self.leaf = leaf  # True if leaf node, else false
        self.keys = []  # List of keys
        self.children = []  # List of child pointers

class BTree:
    def __init__(self, t):
        self.root = BTreeNode(t, True)
        self.t = t  # Minimum degree

    def traverse(self, node):
        for i in range(len(node.keys)):
            if not node.leaf:
            print(node.keys[i], end=' ')
        if not node.leaf:

    def search(self, k, node=None):
        if node is None:
            node = self.root
        i = 0
        while i < len(node.keys) and k > node.keys[i]:
            i += 1
        if i < len(node.keys) and k == node.keys[i]:
            return node
        if node.leaf:
            return None
        return, node.children[i])

    def insert(self, k):
        root = self.root
        if len(root.keys) == (2 * self.t) - 1:
            new_root = BTreeNode(self.t, False)
            self.split_child(new_root, 0)
            self.root = new_root
        self._insert_non_full(self.root, k)

    def split_child(self, parent, i):
        t = self.t
        node = parent.children[i]
        new_node = BTreeNode(t, node.leaf)
        parent.children.insert(i + 1, new_node)
        parent.keys.insert(i, node.keys[t - 1])
        new_node.keys = node.keys[t:]
        node.keys = node.keys[:t - 1]
        if not node.leaf:
            new_node.children = node.children[t:]
            node.children = node.children[:t]

    def _insert_non_full(self, node, k):
        if node.leaf:
            i = len(node.keys) - 1
            while i >= 0 and k < node.keys[i]:
                node.keys[i + 1] = node.keys[i]
                i -= 1
            node.keys[i + 1] = k
            i = len(node.keys) - 1
            while i >= 0 and k < node.keys[i]:
                i -= 1
            i += 1
            if len(node.children[i].keys) == (2 * self.t) - 1:
                self.split_child(node, i)
                if k > node.keys[i]:
                    i += 1
            self._insert_non_full(node.children[i], k)

# Example usage:
btree = BTree(3)  # A B-Tree with minimum degree 3
keys = [10, 20, 5, 6, 12, 30, 7, 17]
for key in keys:
btree.traverse(btree.root)  # Output: 5 6 7 10 12 17 20 30

This code defines a B-Tree with methods for inserting nodes and performing search and traversal operations.

Types of B-Trees

There are several variations of B-Trees, each with distinct characteristics:

  • B+ Tree: An extension of the B-Tree where all values are stored at the leaf level, and internal nodes only store keys. It allows for efficient range queries.
  • B* Tree: A variation of the B-Tree that ensures better space utilization by requiring nodes to be at least 2/3 full before splitting.
  • 2-3 Tree: A B-Tree of order 3, where each node can have 2 or 3 children, and all leaves are at the same level.
  • 2-3-4 Tree: A B-Tree of order 4, where each node can have 2, 3, or 4 children, and all leaves are at the same level.

Applications of B-Trees

  • Databases: B-Trees are widely used in databases to index large amounts of data efficiently.
  • File Systems: B-Trees are used in file systems to manage directories and files, allowing for quick access and updates.
  • Search Algorithms: B-Trees are used in search algorithms to maintain sorted data and perform quick lookups.
  • Memory Management: B-Trees are used in memory management systems to allocate and manage memory efficiently.


B-Trees are a fundamental data structure that provides efficient management of large datasets. Understanding their components, properties, and applications is crucial for implementing various algorithms and solving complex problems in databases, file systems, and other areas.