Mergeable heap

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In computer science, a mergeable heap (also called a meldable heap) is an abstract data type, which is a heap supporting a merge operation.


A mergeable heap supports the usual heap operations:[1]

  • Make-Heap(), create an empty heap.
  • Insert(H,x), insert an element x into the heap H.
  • Min(H), return the minimum element, or Nil if no such element exists.
  • Extract-Min(H), extract and return the minimum element, or Nil if no such element exists.

And one more that distinguishes it:[1]

  • Merge(H1,H2), combine the elements of H1 and H2 into a single heap.

Trivial implementation[edit]

It is straightforward to implement a mergeable heap given a simple heap:


  1. x ← Extract-Min(H2)
  2. while x ≠ Nil
    1. Insert(H1, x)
    2. x ← Extract-Min(H2)

This can however be wasteful as each Extract-Min(H) and Insert(H,x) typically have to maintain the heap property.

More efficient implementations[edit]

Examples of mergeable heap data structures include:

A more complete list with performance comparisons can be found at Heap (data structure) § Comparison of theoretic bounds for variants.

In most mergeable heap structures, mergeing is the fundamental operation on which others are based. Insertion is implemented by merging a new single-element heap with the existing heap. Deletion is implemented by merging the children of the deleted node.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cormen, Thomas H.; Leiserson, Charles E.; Rivest, Ronald L.; Stein, Clifford (2009) [1990]. Introduction to Algorithms (3rd ed.). MIT Press and McGraw-Hill. pp. 505–506. ISBN 0-262-03384-4.