Suffix Array and Suffix Tree in Data Structures

Level : Advanced
Mentor: Shailendra Chauhan
Duration : 00:04:00

What is a Suffix Array in Data Structures?

It is an ordered array of all the suffixes of a particular string that is sorted lexicographically. This structure uses memory quickly and efficiently by storing the original string's suffixes in a compact form. One of the most valuable characteristics of the Suffix Array is its ability to easily locate a substring within the original string. 

Applications of Suffix Arrays

  • Pattern Searching: Suffix arrays are utilized in algorithms such as LCP and modified KMP for rapid pattern search.
  • Text compression: Used in the Burrows-Wheeler Transform (BWT) to improve compression ratio.
  • Genome assembly: The process of matching and combining fragments to reassemble DNA sequences.
  • Data mining and bioinformatics: Used for substring matching, sequence alignment, gene identification, and so on.
  • Longest Common Substring: Used to identify the longest common substrings among various strings.
  • Text indexing: Allows for quick searches and retrievals in big text collections.
  • Data compression: Helps in sequence encoding and decoding, thereby lowering storage needs.

What is a Suffix Tree in Data Structures?

A suffix tree is a data structure that enables quick and efficient pattern matching across an extensive amount of text. It's a compacted trie with all of the text's suffixes. While this may sound complicated, the suffix tree's power stems from its potential to speed up tasks such as text indexing and searching in ways that were previously impossible.

Properties of Suffix Trees in Data Structures

  • The tree has n leaves (1 to n).
  • Each edge is labeled with an S substring.
  • Except for the root, all internal nodes have two or more children.
  • No two edges from a node may begin with the same character.
  • The suffix S[i..n] is generated by string labels from root to leaf I.

Complexity Analysis of Suffix Tree in Data Structures

A suffix tree's complexity analysis considers various elements:


Construction time complexity ranges from O(n) to O(n^2), with n representing the input string length. Space complexity ranges from O(n^2) to O(nm), where m is the size of the alphabet.

Memory consumption

The space complexity of storing the suffix tree ranges from O(n) to O(n^2), depending on the implementation.


The time complexity for searching a pattern of length m ranges from O(m) to O(m^2), but is typically closer to O(m).


Insertion and deletion operations are typically not supported in ordinary suffix tree implementations. Reconstructing the tree following such operations would necessitate near-complete reconstruction.

Applications of Suffix Trees

  • Pattern Searching: Suffix trees provide for rapid pattern matching and substring queries in linear time.
  • Longest Common Substring: Identifies the longest common substrings, which are essential for DNA and protein analysis.
  • Text Compression: Used in compression techniques such as BWT and gzip to compactly encode repeated substrings.
  • Data Mining: Data mining is used to identify common patterns in massive datasets, which aids DNA analysis, weblogs, and NLP.
  • Bioinformatics and genomics: Required for DNA sequencing, genome assembly, and sequence alignment.
  • Computational Linguistics: Useful in NLP for keyword searches and language analyses.
  • Data compression: Used in compression methods such as LZW to ensure efficient encoding and decoding.
  • Network Analysis: Used to analyze network data, uncover patterns, and identify motifs.

Advantages of Suffix Trees

  • Pattern Searching: Suffix trees speed up pattern matching and substring queries for text, biology, and data mining.
  • Space Efficiency: Despite initial complexity, they efficiently represent huge texts with minimal memory, making them suitable for repeating data.
  • Versatility: They excel at identifying common substrings, compression, bioinformatics, and linguistics.
  • Dynamic Updates: Suffix trees effectively adapt to changing data, despite their high building costs.

Disadvantages of Suffix Trees

  • Construction: Building a suffix tree can be costly, ranging from O(n2) to O(nm), where n is the length of the string and m is the alphabet size.
  • Memory Usage: Suffix trees require a lot of memory, especially for long strings, which can lead to inefficiency and slow processing on limited platforms.
  • Dynamic Operations: Insertion and deletion are difficult, sometimes requiring near-complete reconstruction, restricting utility.
  • Algorithmic Complexity: Pattern querying can have complexity ranging from O(m) to O(m2), but is typically closer to O(m) in practice, where m represents pattern length.
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