Kruskal`s Algorithm

Posted By on September 19, 2014

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Elements of Greedy Strategy
Prim`s Algorithm

Kruskal’s algorithm is a greedy algorithm in graph theory that finds a minimum spanning tree for a connected weighted graph. This means it finds a subset of the edges that forms a tree that includes every vertex, where the total weight of all the edges in the tree is minimized. If the graph is not connected, then it finds a minimum spanning forest (a minimum spanning tree for each connected component).


  • create a forest F (a set of trees), where each vertex in the graph is a separate tree
  • create a set S containing all the edges in the graph
  • while S is nonempty and F is not yet spanning
    • remove an edge with minimum weight from S
    • if that edge connects two different trees, then add it to the forest, combining two trees into a single tree

At the termination of the algorithm, the forest forms a minimum spanning forest of the graph. If the graph is connected, the forest has a single component and forms a minimum spanning tree.


The following code is implemented with disjoint-set data structure:

1 A = ∅
2 foreach v ∈ G.V:
3   MAKE-SET(v)
4 foreach (u, v) ordered by weight(u, v), increasing:
5    if FIND-SET(u) ≠ FIND-SET(v):
6       A = A ∪ {(u, v)}
7       UNION(u, v)
8 return A


Where E is the number of edges in the graph and V is the number of vertices, Kruskal’s algorithm can be shown to run in O(E log E) time, or equivalently, O(E log V) time, all with simple data structures. These running times are equivalent because:

  • E is at most V2 and log V^2 = 2 log V ; is O(log V).
  • Each isolated vertex is a separate component of the minimum spanning forest. If we ignore isolated vertices we obtain VE+1, so log V is O(log E).

We can achieve this bound as follows: first sort the edges by weight using a comparison sort in O(E log E) time; this allows the step “remove an edge with minimum weight from S” to operate in constant time. Next, we use a disjoint-set data structure (Union&Find) to keep track of which vertices are in which components. We need to perform O(E) operations, two ‘find’ operations and possibly one union for each edge. Even a simple disjoint-set data structure such as disjoint-set forests with union by rank can perform O(E) operations in O(E log V) time. Thus the total time is O(E log E) = O(E log V).

Provided that the edges are either already sorted or can be sorted in linear time (for example with counting sort or radix sort), the algorithm can use more sophisticated disjoint-set data structure to run in O(E α(V)) time, where α is the extremely slowly growing inverse of the single-valued Ackermann function.


Image Description
Kruskal Algorithm 1.svg AD and CE are the shortest edges, with length 5, and AD has been arbitrarily chosen, so it is highlighted.
Kruskal Algorithm 2.svg CE is now the shortest edge that does not form a cycle, with length 5, so it is highlighted as the second edge.
Kruskal Algorithm 3.svg The next edge, DF with length 6, is highlighted using much the same method.
Kruskal Algorithm 4.svg The next-shortest edges are AB and BE, both with length 7. AB is chosen arbitrarily, and is highlighted. The edge BD has been highlighted in red, because there already exists a path (in green) between B and D, so it would form a cycle (ABD) if it were chosen.
Kruskal Algorithm 5.svg The process continues to highlight the next-smallest edge, BE with length 7. Many more edges are highlighted in red at this stage: BC because it would form the loop BCE, DE because it would form the loop DEBA, and FE because it would form FEBAD.
Kruskal Algorithm 6.svg Finally, the process finishes with the edge EG of length 9, and the minimum spanning tree is found.

Proof of correctness

The proof consists of two parts. First, it is proved that the algorithm produces a spanning tree. Second, it is proved that the constructed spanning tree is of minimal weight.

Spanning tree

Let P be a connected, weighted graph and let Y be the subgraph of P produced by the algorithm. Y cannot have a cycle, been within one subtree and not between two different trees. Y cannot be disconnected, since the first encountered edge that joins two components of Y would have been added by the algorithm. Thus, Y is a spanning tree of P.


We show that the following proposition P is true by induction: If F is the set of edges chosen at any stage of the algorithm, then there is some minimum spanning tree that contains F.

  • Clearly P is true at the beginning, when F is empty: any minimum spanning tree will do, and there exists one because a weighted connected graph always has a minimum spanning tree.
  • Now assume P is true for some non-final edge set F and let T be a minimum spanning tree that contains F. If the next chosen edge e is also in T, then P is true for F + e. Otherwise, T + e has a cycle C and there is another edge f that is in C but not F. (If there were no such edge f, then e could not have been added to F, since doing so would have created the cycle C.) Then Tf + e is a tree, and it has the same weight as T, since T has minimum weight and the weight of f cannot be less than the weight of e, otherwise the algorithm would have chosen f instead of e. So Tf + e is a minimum spanning tree containing F + e and again P holds.
  • Therefore, by the principle of induction, P holds when F has become a spanning tree, which is only possible if F is a minimum spanning tree itself.
Elements of Greedy Strategy
Prim`s Algorithm

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Posted by Akash Kurup

Founder and C.E.O, World4Engineers Educationist and Entrepreneur by passion. Orator and blogger by hobby