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B-Tree Deletion

B-Tree is a type of a multi-way search tree. So, if you are not familiar with multi-way search trees in general, it is better to take a look at this video lecture from IIT-Delhi, before proceeding further. Once you get the basics of a multi-way search tree clear, B-Tree operations will be easier to understand.

Source of the following explanation and algorithm is Introduction to Algorithms 3rd Edition by Clifford Stein, Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest

Deletion process:
Deletion from a B-tree is more complicated than insertion, because we can delete a key from any node-not just a leaf—and when we delete a key from an internal node, we will have to rearrange the node’s children.

    As in insertion, we must make sure the deletion doesn’t violates the B-tree properties. Just as we had to ensure that a node didn’t get too big due to insertion, we must ensure that a node doesn’t get too small during deletion (except that the root is allowed to have fewer than the minimum number t-1 of keys). Just as a simple insertion algorithm might have to back up if a node on the path to where the key was to be inserted was full, a simple approach to deletion might have to back up if a node (other than the root) along the path to where the key is to be deleted has the minimum number of keys.

    The deletion procedure deletes the key k from the subtree rooted at x. This procedure guarantees that whenever it calls itself recursively on a node x, the number of keys in x is at least the minimum degree t . Note that this condition requires one more key than the minimum required by the usual B-tree conditions, so that sometimes a key may have to be moved into a child node before recursion descends to that child. This strengthened condition allows us to delete a key from the tree in one downward pass without having to “back up” (with one exception, which we’ll explain). You should interpret the following specification for deletion from a B-tree with the understanding that if the root node x ever becomes an internal node having no keys (this situation can occur in cases 2c and 3b then we delete x, and x’s only child x.c1 becomes the new root of the tree, decreasing the height of the tree by one and preserving the property that the root of the tree contains at least one key (unless the tree is empty).

We sketch how deletion works with various cases of deleting keys from a B-tree.

1. If the key k is in node x and x is a leaf, delete the key k from x.

2. If the key k is in node x and x is an internal node, do the following.

    a) If the child y that precedes k in node x has at least t keys, then find the predecessor k0 of k in the sub-tree rooted at y. Recursively delete k0, and replace k by k0 in x. (We can find k0 and delete it in a single downward pass.)

    b) If y has fewer than t keys, then, symmetrically, examine the child z that follows k in node x. If z has at least t keys, then find the successor k0 of k in the subtree rooted at z. Recursively delete k0, and replace k by k0 in x. (We can find k0 and delete it in a single downward pass.)

     c) Otherwise, if both y and z have only t-1 keys, merge k and all of z into y, so that x loses both k and the pointer to z, and y now contains 2t-1 keys. Then free z and recursively delete k from y.

3. If the key k is not present in internal node x, determine the root x.c(i) of the appropriate subtree that must contain k, if k is in the tree at all. If x.c(i) has only t-1 keys, execute step 3a or 3b as necessary to guarantee that we descend to a node containing at least t keys. Then finish by recursing on the appropriate child of x.

    a) If x.c(i) has only t-1 keys but has an immediate sibling with at least t keys, give x.c(i) an extra key by moving a key from x down into x.c(i), moving a key from x.c(i) ’s immediate left or right sibling up into x, and moving the appropriate child pointer from the sibling into x.c(i).

    b) If x.c(i) and both of x.c(i)’s immediate siblings have t-1 keys, merge x.c(i) with one sibling, which involves moving a key from x down into the new merged node to become the median key for that node.

Since most of the keys in a B-tree are in the leaves, deletion operations are most often used to delete keys from leaves. The recursive delete procedure then acts in one downward pass through the tree, without having to back up. When deleting a key in an internal node, however, the procedure makes a downward pass through the tree but may have to return to the node from which the key was deleted to replace the key with its predecessor or successor (cases 2a and 2b).

The following figures from CLRS book explain the deletion porcess.

Following is C++ implementation of deletion process.

/* The following program performs deletion on a B-Tree. It contains functions
   specific for deletion along with all the other functions provided in the
   previous articles on B-Trees. See
   for previous article.
   The deletion function has been compartmentalized into 8 functions for ease
   of understanding and clarity
   The following functions are exclusive for deletion
   In class BTreeNode:
    1) remove
    2) removeFromLeaf
    3) removeFromNonLeaf
    4) getPred
    5) getSucc
    6) borrowFromPrev
    7) borrowFromNext
    8) merge
    9) findKey
   In class BTree:
     1) remove
  The removal of a key from a B-Tree is a fairly complicated process. The program handles
  all the 6 different cases that might arise while removing a key.
  Testing: The code has been tested using the B-Tree provided in the CLRS book( included
  in the main function ) along with other cases.
  Reference: CLRS3 - Chapter 18 - (499-502)
  It is advised to read the material in CLRS before taking a look at the code. */