Find nodes which are at a distance k from root in a Binary Tree

Binary Tree Problems books

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We are given the root of a tree, and an integer k. We need to print all the nodes which are a distance k from the root.

For example, if the given tree is:


Here, the root is 1. If k is 2, then the output should be 4, 5 and 6 as they are at a distance of 2 from the root.

This problem can be solved using a general traversal technique like:

  • Breadth First Search
  • Depth First Search
  • Level Order Traversal

In Depth First Search (DFS) and Breadth First Search (BFS), we can keep track of the level of each node by adding 1 to each level of traversal. When the level is K, the current node is at a distance of K from the root node.

In Level Order traversal, we shall get all nodes at level K.

This problem can be easily solved using general recursion:

  • We will make a recursion function, let's say printNodes(node * root, int k) .
  • This function will recursively call itself in its left and right children, with a distance of k-1.
  • Finally, when k=0 is encountered, we will print the value in the current node. This node will be at a distance of k from the root.


Let us walk through the procedure with our given example.

  • Initially, the root of the tree is 1 and k = 2. Since k is not equal to 0, we will recursively call the tree with its left child as the root and k-1. Hence, the function printNodes( root->left, 1 ) will be called.
  • Our new root will then be 2 and k =1. Again, k is not 0, hence we will call the function printNodes( root->left, 0 ).
  • Now, our root is 4 and this time, k=0. So we will print the data in the given root, as this node will be at a distance of k=2 from the original root.
  • Similarly, the recursive function will be called in the right subtrees until we get a NULL value, or until k=0.

The following graph depicts the recursion route. (The function name printNodes is abbreviated to pN)


The following is the code to the above problem in C++

using namespace std; 
/* A binary tree node has data, 
pointer to left child and 
a pointer to right child */
class node  
    int data;  
    node* left;  
    node* right;  
    /* Constructor that allocates a new node with the  
    given data and NULL left and right pointers. */
    node(int data) 
        this->data = data; 
        this->left = NULL; 
        this->right = NULL; 
void printNodes(node *root , int k)  
    if(root == NULL)  
    if( k == 0 )  
        cout << root->data << " ";  
        return ;  
        printNodes( root->left, k - 1 ) ;  
        printNodes( root->right, k - 1 ) ;  
/* Driver code*/
int main()  
    /* Constructed binary tree is  
            / \  
           2    3  
          /    / \ 
         4    5   6  
    node *root = new node(1);  
    root->left = new node(2);  
    root->right = new node(3);  
    root->left->left = new node(4);  
    root->right->left = new node(5);  
    root->right->right = new node(6);  
    root->left->left->left = new node(7);
    printNodes(root, 2);  
    return 0;  

Output -

4 5 6 

Complexity -

Time complexity: O(n)
Space complexity: O(n) , where n is the no. of nodes.

Hence, we have found out how to find nodes at a distance of k from the root node, using recursion.