Handling Graphs With Adjacency Lists

Handling Graphs With Adjacency Lists

Easy to create, easy to manipulate, here is how it works. An adjacency list represents a graph (or a tree) as an array of nodes that include their list of connections.

Introduction

An adjacency list represents a graph (or a tree) as an array of nodes that include their list of connections. Let’s first see how it looks like with a graph and its equivalent adjacency list representation:

Image for post

The idea is pretty simple : the index of the array represents a node and each element in its list represents an outgoing connection with another node. Easy to create, easy to manipulate, here is how the data could be represented in JSON :

[
  [1, 2, 3],
  [0, 2],
  [0, 1],
  [0]
]

Yes, it’s that simple! It includes all the information we need to go through and to visualize graphs or trees. This is for instance the data structure we choose to handle our mazes:

Applications

The advantage of the adjacency list implementation is that it allows us to compactly represent a sparse graph. The adjacency list also allows us to easily find all the links that are directly connected to a particular node. It is used in places like: BFSDFSDijkstraA* (A-Star) etc.

traversals data-structures adjacency-list graph bfs data analysis

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