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  • Univalued Binary Tree
  • Univalued Binary Tree

    February 02, 2020

    yuck yuck

    Last night, in the mildewy smelling basemeent of some KBBQ restaurant near Flushing (NY), a few friends and I were talking about snowboarding, and how it took one of us 5 years to get comfortable with it. Why so long? “Well I only go once a year!”, was the response. And that makes total sense.

    A quick pivot to this morning - I’m staring at a leetcode question, Univalued Binary Tree, scanning the past year for anything useful I’ve learned, and wondering why I still feel so dumbfounded, like a deer in headlights. My response to myself? “Well I only practice once every few months. (And I don’t even like it!)”

    Reminders to myself…

    What’s the movtivation behind practing coding questions?

    You suck, try harder - Ok!

    How do you expect to pass the next job interview? - Luck?

    Is not knowing common algorithm patterns / problem solving stunting my growth as a “budding” software engineer? - Yes

    Don’t be lazy

    I’m not going to magically understand how to solve coding questions. I just have to do it more.


    Use any helpful tools

    Haters will probably hate, but I find Joma & TechLead’s coding website immensely useful, given the limited amount of free time that I have in a day. (Commuting, working, staying late after work, climbing, doing life chores…)

    The question

    Link: https://leetcode.com/problems/univalued-binary-tree/

    A binary tree is univalued if every node in the tree has the same value.

    Return true if and only if the given tree is univalued.

    My answer

    # Definition for a binary tree node.
    # class TreeNode:
    #     def __init__(self, x):
    #         self.val = x
    #         self.left = None
    #         self.right = None
    class Solution:
        def isUnivalTree(self, root: TreeNode) -> bool:
            def helper(node: TreeNode, unival) -> bool:
                if not node:
                    return True
                if node.val != unival:
                    return False
                if not helper(node.left, unival):
                    return False
                if not helper(node.right, unival):
                    return False
                return True
            if not root:
                return True
            return helper(root, root.val)


    Recursion is an easy way to traverse a tree. I took this approach from Joma and TechLead’s answer to this other binary tree question, and modified it to take a unival param.

    def helper(node: TreeNode, unival) -> bool:
    # ...

    Each recursive call will be given the unival for a node’s key/val to be checked against.

    …But since unival will be a constant, starting from the root node, maybe this can be a global value rather passed down as “state” in each recursive helper call, right?…

    • TODO: read this stackoverflow thread for better fundamental understanding of how the “callstack” works.

    Time Complexity

    1. Visit the root node - aka call helper on the root node
    2. Traverse the left subtree - aka, the internal helper call on node.left
    3. Traverse the right subtree - aka, the internal helper call on node.right

    Each node will be visited once, so: O(n), where n is the total number of nodes.

    Space Complexity

    This is something I still don’t fully understand.

    Space complexity depends on how fast the callstack grows. The callstack grows with each recursive call, and recursive calls stop when a “leaf node” or base-cases are reached.

    Space complexity will be O(h), where h is the greatest depth of a subtree. (This needs confirmation. Someone save me.)

    Next Steps

    • Take a break.
    • Learn some more RESTful api basics, as well as Express.
    • Take a break from Apollo + GraphQL, as amazing as they are.
    • Do some more database stuff - learn some SQL. I revived my RDS instance, so I should probably make use of that $20+/month that I’m paying.
    Tags: leetcodecodealgorithmsbinary treeclimbingpracticetraining
    Kevin Wang

    👋 I'm Kevin Wang. Jazz GuitaristBaristaReceptionist Front End Engineer
    This is my ever growing sandbox of sorts⛱.


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