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Understanding Depth-First Search Algorithm with Python


Depth-First Search (DFS) is a popular graph traversal algorithm used to explore and search through graph data structures. It starts at a designated vertex and explores as far as possible along each branch before backtracking. In this article, we will delve into the concept of DFS and provide a Python implementation to help you grasp the algorithm

Understanding Depth-First Search:

DFS follows the principle of exploring vertices and their adjacent neighbours in a systematic manner. It maintains a stack to keep track of the current path being explored. The algorithm follows these steps:

  1. Start at an initial vertex and mark it as visited.
  2. Explore one of the unvisited neighbours of the current vertex.
  3. If all neighbours have been visited or there are no neighbours, backtrack to the previous vertex.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all vertices have been visited.

Python Implementation of Depth-First Search:

Let’s implement the DFS algorithm using Python. We’ll assume that the graph is represented using an adjacency list.

# Function to perform Depth-First Search
def dfs(graph, start_vertex, visited=None):
    if visited is None:
        visited = set()

    print(start_vertex)  # Process the current vertex

    # Explore all adjacent vertices
    for neighbor in graph[start_vertex]:
        if neighbor not in visited:
            dfs(graph, neighbor, visited)

Explanation of the Code:

  1. The dfs the function takes three parameters: the graph represented as an adjacency list, the starting vertex, and a set to keep track of visited vertices. If the set is not provided, it initializes an empty set.
  2. We add the start_vertex to the visited set to mark it as visited.
  3. We process the current vertex by printing it. You can modify this part to suit your requirements, such as performing any desired operations on the vertex.
  4. Next, we iterate over the neighbours of the start_vertex using a for loop.
  5. If a neighbour has not been visited, we recursively call the dfs function with the neighbour as the new start_vertex and the updated visited set.
  6. The recursion ensures that we explore all vertices until there are no unvisited neighbours left.

Usage Example:

To use the DFS algorithm, we need to represent our graph as an adjacency list. Let’s consider a simple example:

# Create an adjacency list for the graph
graph = {
    'A': ['B', 'C'],
    'B': ['D', 'E'],
    'C': ['F'],
    'D': [],
    'E': ['F'],
    'F': []

# Perform DFS starting from vertex 'A'
dfs(graph, 'A')




Depth-First Search is a powerful algorithm for traversing and searching through graphs. Its simplicity and effectiveness make it a popular choice in various applications. By understanding the concept and implementing it in Python, you can utilize DFS to explore and analyze graph structures efficiently.

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