Connected Components

Vertices are said to be connected if there is a path between them. We would like to be able to answer the question "Is $v$ connected to $w$?" for any given graph.

To this end, If we view "is connected to" as a relation, we quickly see that it is an equivalence relation, as for any vertices $u$, $v$, and $w$, we know:

  • $v$ is connected to $v$ -- so the reflexive property holds
  • If $v$ is connected to $w$, then $w$ is connected to $v$ -- so the symmetric property holds.
  • If $u$ is connected to $v$ and $v$ is connected to $w$, then $u$ is connected to $w$ -- so the transitive property holds.

With this, for a given graph and vertex, we can find a maximal set of connected vertices that includes the given vertex. Such a set is called a connected component. As an example, the connected component in the graph below that contains vertex 9 is shown below in blue (and given an "id" of 2).

By pre-processing a graph to identify the connected components to which each vertex belongs, we can answer queries of the form "Is $v$ connected to $w$?" in constant time!

This can be done using a depth-first search, as shown in the code that follows:

public class ConnectedComponents {

    private boolean visited[];
    private int[] id;
    private int numComponents;
    public ConnectedComponents(Graph g) {
        visited = new boolean[g.numVertices()];
        id = new int[g.numVertices()];
        for (int v = 0; v < g.numVertices(); v++) {
            if (! visited[v]) {
    private void dfs(Graph g, int v) {
        visited[v] = true;
        id[v] = numComponents;  
        for (int w : g.adj(v)) {
            if (! visited[w]) {
    public int count() {
        return numComponents;
    public int id(int v) {
        return id[v];
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Graph g = new Graph(13);
        g.addEdge(0, 1);
        g.addEdge(0, 2);
        g.addEdge(0, 5);
        g.addEdge(0, 6);
        g.addEdge(3, 4);
        g.addEdge(3, 5);
        g.addEdge(4, 5);
        g.addEdge(4, 6);
        g.addEdge(7, 8);
        g.addEdge(9, 10);
        g.addEdge(9, 11);
        g.addEdge(9, 12);
        g.addEdge(11, 12);
        ConnectedComponents cc = new ConnectedComponents(g);
        System.out.println("  v  | id[v]");
        for (int v = 0; v < g.numVertices(); v++) {
            System.out.println((v < 10 ? "  " : " ") + v + " " + " |  " +;