What is a terminal node and a non-terminal node?

Answered by Cody Janus

A terminal node, also known as a leaf node, is a node in a tree or graph that does not have any child nodes. It is located at the edge of the tree, signifying the end of a branch or path. Terminal nodes are like the final destinations in a journey, where no further exploration or branching is possible. They are called “terminal” because they mark the termination or conclusion of a path.

On the other hand, a non-terminal node, also known as an internal node or branch node, is any node in a tree or graph that has one or more child nodes connected to it. Non-terminal nodes are like the junctions or intersections in a journey, where the path diverges into multiple directions. These nodes serve as decision points or intermediate steps towards reaching a terminal node.

To better understand the difference between terminal and non-terminal nodes, let’s consider a real-life example. Imagine you are planning a road trip from your hometown to a popular tourist destination. You start by driving on the main highway, which can be represented as a tree or graph. Each town or city along the way is a node, and the roads connecting them are the edges.

At the beginning of your journey, your hometown would be a non-terminal node since it has several neighboring towns and cities you can travel to. As you start driving and making choices, each town you visit becomes a non-terminal node, as it offers further options for exploration.

However, as you reach the final destination, let’s say a beautiful beach, that node would be a terminal node. It marks the end of your road trip, and there are no further towns or cities to visit beyond it. You have reached the ultimate goal of your journey.

To summarize, a terminal node is like the destination point or endpoint in a tree or graph, while a non-terminal node is an intermediate node that leads to further exploration or decision-making. Terminal nodes represent the final outcomes or conclusions, while non-terminal nodes represent the various paths or options available.