Somewhat Frequent

Introduction to Graphs

Authors: Darren Yao, Benjamin Qi

Contributors: Nathan Gong, Ryan Chou, Kevin Sheng, Nikhil Chatterjee

What graphs are.

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Note: Graphs will become a key topic in higher divisions. For Bronze, graphs are just a nice way to think about the structure of our data.

Graphs can be used to represent many things, from images to wireless signals, but one of the simplest analogies is to a map. Consider a map with several cities and bidirectional roads connecting the cities. Some problems relating to graphs are:

  1. Is city AA connected to city BB? Consider a region to be a group of cities such that each city in the group can reach any other city in said group, but no other cities. How many regions are in this map, and which cities are in which region? (Silver)

  2. What's the shortest distance I have to travel to get from city AA to city BB? (Gold)

For now, it suffices to learn how graphs are represented (usually adjacency lists).




interactive - adjacency lists and matrices


graph terminology, representation


graph basics and representation, trees


adjacency matrices, lists, maps

What Does a Bronze Graph Problem Look Like?

All of the problems below fall into at least one of the following two categories:

  • The graph's structure is special (it's a tree, path, or a cycle).
  • To solve the problem, all you need to do is iterate over the adjacency list of every vertex.

Knowing DFS can be helpful but it should not be required.

Example - Livestock Lineup

Focus Problem – try your best to solve this problem before continuing!

View Internal Solution

This problem has multiple solutions. Can you find one that runs in only O(n)\mathcal{O}(n) time?


Solution with Graphs - Livestock Lineup

While you can brute force all possible permutations of the cows, there is a solution that works in just O(N)\mathcal{O}(N), involving graphs!

Notice that since the input is guaranteed to be valid, we're always going to end up with "chains" of cows that we can arrange as we please. Using the sample given in the problem, we'd get a "chain" representation like this:


Note that cows that are not part of any chain can be considered their own chains of length 1 for implementation purposes.

With this representation in mind, we can iterate through the cows in lexicographical order. When we visit a cow that could be a possible start of a chain (a cow that only has one required neighbor), we go through its neighbors, adding cows as we go along, until we hit an end.


Time Complexity: O(N)\mathcal{O}(N)


#include <algorithm>
#include <fstream>
#include <map>
#include <string>
#include <vector>
using std::endl;
using std::string;
using std::vector;


import java.util.*;
public class LineUp {
// Assumed to be in sorted order (which it is)
static final String[] COWS =
new String[] {"Beatrice", "Belinda", "Bella", "Bessie",
"Betsy", "Blue", "Buttercup", "Sue"};
public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {


COWS = sorted(
["Bessie", "Buttercup", "Belinda", "Beatrice", "Bella", "Blue", "Betsy", "Sue"]
cow_inds = {c: i for i, c in enumerate(COWS)}
neighbors = [[] for _ in range(len(COWS))]
with open("") as read:
for _ in range(int(read.readline())):
words = read.readline().strip().split()


StatusSourceProblem NameDifficultyTags
Show TagsColoring, Tree
Show TagsColoring
Show TagsDFS, Tree
Show TagsCycle, Permutation
BronzeVery Hard
Show TagsDFS, Tree
BronzeVery Hard
Show TagsTree

Check Your Understanding

How many connected components are in the following graph? Graph

Question 1 of 6

Module Progress:

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