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Interval Tree

What are Interval Trees?

Interval trees are a powerful data structure that plays a crucial role in various applications, ranging from computational geometry to database systems. This specialized tree structure is designed to efficiently store and search for intervals, providing a valuable tool for solving problems involving overlapping or intersecting intervals.

It is a self-balancing binary search tree specifically designed for handling intervals. Each node in the tree represents an interval, and the tree is constructed in a way that allows for efficient searching and querying of intervals.

An interval, in this context, is a range of values defined by two endpoints. For example, a time interval might be represented as [start_time, end_time]. Interval trees excel at solving problems where the goal is to find intervals that overlap with a given query interval.

Structure of an Interval Tree:

The structure of an interval tree is similar to that of a binary search tree, but with some additional properties to efficiently handle overlapping intervals. Each node in the tree contains an interval, and the tree is built such that for any node:

  • The left subtree contains intervals with low endpoint values.
  • The right subtree contains intervals with high endpoint values.

Each node in the tree contains the following attributes:

  • Low Value (low): The starting point of the interval.
  • High Value (high): The ending point of the interval.
  • Maximum Endpoint (max): The maximum endpoint among the node's interval and its subtree's intervals.
  • Left Child: The left subtree, representing intervals with lower starting points.
  • Right Child: The right subtree, representing intervals with higher starting points.

Additionally, each node stores the maximum endpoint value of its subtree. This property helps in quickly identifying whether any intervals in a subtree might overlap with a given query interval without exploring the entire subtree.

Various Operations on Interval Trees:


Building an interval tree involves recursively partitioning the input set of intervals and creating nodes for each partition. The construction process ensures that the tree maintains the ordering properties mentioned earlier. To maintain balance and optimize search times, techniques like rotation and rebalancing may be employed during construction.


Searching for intervals that overlap with a given query interval is a fundamental operation of interval trees. The search process is efficient because it leverages the ordered structure of the tree. Starting from the root, the algorithm traverses the tree, pruning subtrees based on the maximum endpoint values stored at each node. This allows for significant reduction in the search space.

Insertion and Deletion:

Inserting a new interval into an interval tree involves finding the appropriate location in the tree based on the ordering properties and then updating the maximum endpoint values of ancestor nodes. Deletion follows a similar process, with adjustments made to maintain the ordering and maximum endpoint properties.



  • The Interval struct represents a closed interval with start and end points.
  • The IntervalTree class is a binary search tree where each node contains an Interval and an additional field maxEnd, representing the maximum end value among the intervals in the subtree rooted at that node. The tree is balanced based on the start values of intervals.
  • The insert method in the IntervalTree class inserts a new interval into the tree. It recursively traverses the tree to find the appropriate position for the new interval based on the start values.
  • During insertion, the maxEnd values are updated to maintain the correct subtree information.
  • The doOverlap method checks whether two intervals overlap. The isOverlapPresent method recursively searches the tree to determine if there is any overlap between the query interval and intervals stored in the tree.
  • If an overlap is found, the method returns true; otherwise, it returns false. The maxEnd values are used to efficiently prune subtrees where no overlap is possible.
  • The main function serves as a test case for the IntervalTree It creates an IntervalTree object, inserts several intervals into the tree, and then queries for an overlapping interval.
  • In the provided example, the query interval is {14, 16}, and the program prints whether an overlap is present or not.

Program Output:

Interval Tree

Applications of Interval Trees:

Interval trees find applications in various fields, including:

  • Computational Geometry:

Solving geometric problems involving overlapping intervals, such as identifying intersecting line segments or rectangles.

  • Database Systems:

Managing and querying temporal data, where intervals represent time periods.

  • Genomic Data Analysis:

Identifying overlaps between genomic intervals, aiding in tasks like identifying genes that overlap with a given region.

  • Scheduling Algorithms:

Optimizing schedules by efficiently handling time intervals and resource allocation.

  • Network Traffic Analysis:

Analyzing overlapping time intervals to identify periods of high network activity or potential issues.


In conclusion, the interval tree stands out as a powerful and efficient data structure for handling and querying intervals in various computational applications. Its ability to organize and search intervals quickly makes it particularly useful in scenarios such as scheduling, database systems, and computational geometry.

The hierarchical nature of interval trees allows for logarithmic time complexity in most operations, providing a significant advantage over linear search methods. Moreover, the flexibility of interval trees to handle overlapping intervals further enhances their applicability in real-world problems where interval intersections are common.

Furthermore, the adaptability of interval trees to dynamic datasets, where intervals may be inserted or deleted, underscores their practical utility. The dynamic nature of these trees allows for seamless updates without the need for complete reconstruction, maintaining efficiency even in evolving data environments.

This characteristic makes interval trees suitable for applications where the dataset is subject to frequent modifications, ensuring that the structure remains responsive and performs optimally over time.Additionally, the interval tree's versatility in multidimensional scenarios, such as 2D and 3D space, extends its applicability beyond one-dimensional intervals. This feature broadens the scope of problems that can be effectively addressed using interval trees, making them a valuable tool in various computational domains.

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