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Table of contents
Naive Approach
Optimized Approach(Backtracking)
Implementation in C++
Complexity Analysis
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is Backtracking Algorithm? 
What is the difference between Breadth-first Search and Depth-first search? 
What is the maximum number of edges in the undirected graph of Nodes N? 
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Implement Hamiltonian Cycle

Roadmap to SDE career at Amazon
Anubhav Sinha
SDE-2 @
25 Jun, 2024 @ 01:30 PM
DSA Problems


The problem states that we need to implement the hamiltonian cycle in an undirected graph. 

The Hamiltonian cycle is a path through a graph (See, Data Structures) (can be directed or undirected) that starts and ends at the same vertex, let say i,  and includes every other vertex exactly once. 

We are given a graph and we need to determine whether the given graph contains the Hamiltonian path or not. If there are multiple paths, print any one path, otherwise print “No path possible” if the path is not available. 

Also see, Backtracking and Recursion, and Euclid GCD Algorithm


A graph is given in the format of a V x V matrix, where V is the number of vertices. A graph[i][j] = 1, if there is edge between i and j, otherwise graph[i][j] = 0. 


Print the Hamiltonian cycle if it exists otherwise print “No path possible”. 

Sample Example


{0, 1, 0, 1, 0}
 {1, 0, 1, 1, 1}
 {0, 1, 0, 0, 1}
 {1, 1, 0, 0, 1}
 {0, 1, 1, 1, 0}


Visual Representation:

Illustration Image


Following is the hamiltonian cycle: 0 1 2 4 3 0 

Each vertex is visited only once in this path, so it is a hamiltonian cycle. 

Recommended topic, kth largest element in an array

Naive Approach

Generate all possible paths from these vertices, and print that path that satisfies the above constraints. There are N! Paths possible.  


  1. Start generating all the paths taking vertex 0 as the first vertex.
  2. For every path, if it satisfies the constraint of the Hamiltonian path then print this path and break.
  3. Otherwise, keep on trying on every new path. 
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Optimized Approach(Backtracking)

We will use a backtracking algorithm to find the Hamiltonian path. Firstly, we will create a path array that will store the Hamiltonian path, and insert 0 in it initially,  We will mainly create two functions, i.e, isValid(v, k) that will check whether placing v in position k is valid or not and cycleFound(k), it will return true if there is Hamiltonian cycle otherwise returns false. 


isValid(v,k) function: 

If there is no edge between node(k-1) and v or v is already taken, then returns false.
Otherwise, returns true. 


cycleFound(node k) function:

if all nodes are included, then
  if the nodes k and 0 have a common edge, then
      return true
      return false;
for all vertex v except source point, do
    if isValid(v, k) return true, then 
      add v into the path
      if cycleFound(k+1) is true, then
          return true
      otherwise, remove v from the path
      return false


Implementation in C++

#define NODE 5
using namespace std;

int graph[NODE][NODE] = {
   {0, 1, 0, 1, 0},
   {1, 0, 1, 1, 1},
   {0, 1, 0, 0, 1},
   {1, 1, 0, 0, 1},
   {0, 1, 1, 1, 0},
/* int graph[NODE][NODE] = {
   {0, 1, 0, 1, 0},
   {1, 0, 1, 1, 1},
   {0, 1, 0, 0, 1},
   {1, 1, 0, 0, 0},
   {0, 1, 1, 0, 0},
}; */

int path[NODE];

void displayCycle() {
   cout<<  " Following is the hamiltonian cycle: ";

   for (int i = 0; i < NODE; i++)
      cout << path[i] << " ";
   cout << path[0] << endl;      //print the first vertex again

bool isValid(int v, int k) {
   if (graph [path[k-1]][v] == 0)   //if there is no edge
      return false;

   for (int i = 0; i < k; i++)   //if vertex is already taken, skip that
      if (path[i] == v)
         return false;
   return true;

bool cycleFound(int k) {
   if (k == NODE) {             //when all vertices are in the path
      if (graph[path[k-1]][ path[0] ] == 1 )
         return true;
         return false;

   for (int v = 1; v < NODE; v++) {       //for all vertices except starting point
      if (isValid(v,k)) {                //if possible to add v in the path
         path[k] = v;
         if (cycleFound (k+1) == true)
            return true;
         path[k] = -1;               //when k vertex will not in the solution
   return false;

bool hamiltonianCycle() {
   for (int i = 0; i < NODE; i++)
      path[i] = -1;
   path[0] = 0; //first vertex as 0

   if ( cycleFound(1) == false ) {
      cout << "No path possible"<<endl;
      return false;

   return true;

int main() {



Following is the hamiltonian cycle: 0 1 2 4 3 0


Complexity Analysis

Time Complexity: O(|N))

Space Complexity: O(| V |)

This space will be used by a path array that will store the Hamiltonian path, and its maximum length can be equal to the vertices of the graph.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is Backtracking Algorithm? 

Backtracking is an algorithmic technique for solving problems recursively by trying to build a solution incrementally, one piece at a time, removing those solutions that fail to satisfy the constraints of the problem at any point in time.

What is the difference between Breadth-first Search and Depth-first search? 

The BFS uses a queue data structure while DFS uses the stack data structure. BFS is more suitable for searching vertices closer to the given source, while DFS is more suitable for solutions away from the source.

What is the maximum number of edges in the undirected graph of Nodes N? 

Each node can have an edge over every other n-1 node in an undirected graph. Therefore the total number of edges possible is n*(n-1)/2.


In this article, we discussed the problem of implementing the Hamiltonian Path. We hope you understand the problem and solution properly. Now you can do more similar questions. 

Recommended Readings:

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Check out this problem - Root To Leaf Path

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