Minimum Spanning Tree
Now, let’s consider a weighted graph.
We can find different spanning trees, each of which will have different weights for different paths. This sum of the weights is known as cost.
For example, the weight of the spanning tree shown below is 26.
Similarly, there are many other combinations of spanning trees possible.
Now, suppose that the paths in a spanning tree are the different routes from one place to another. Which road will we prefer?
Source: giphy
The shortest one, of course! So, we need to find the path with the least weight. This is called a minimum spanning tree.
Let’s move on to the properties of a minimum spanning tree.
Properties of Minimum Spanning Tree
Some of the important properties of minimum spanning tree are as follows:
Possible Multiplicity
We already saw that by the definition of a spanning tree, it must have (n  1) edges where n is the number of vertices in the graph. This property of a minimum spanning tree is formally called possible multiplicity.
Uniqueness
According to this property, if all the edges in a spanning tree have different weights, there will be only one unique minimum spanning tree.
Let us see an example of this property.
The graph The minimum spanning tree
Minimum Cost Subgraph
This property states that if the weights of all the edges in the spanning tree are positive, then the minimum spanning tree will also be a minimum cost subgraph that connects all the vertices.
To understand this point, let us consider our previous example again.
The graph and its minimum spanning tree.
If you notice, it is also the minimum cost subgraph for the given graph.
Minimum Cost Edge
By this property, if the edge with the least weight is present only once, it must be included in the minimum spanning tree. We saw that in our example practically too, where the edge with the least weight (= 1) is unique and is present in the minimum spanning tree.
Graph MinimumSpanning Tree
Cycle Property
In the graph below, we can see a cycle between nodes 2, 6 and 5. In this cycle, the weights of the edges are 2, 2 and 4, respectively.
The edge between nodes 2 and 5 has the largest weight (= 4) out of these edges.
So, according to the cycle property, this edge will not be a part of the minimum spanning tree.
Thus, the cycle property states that in a cycle, the edge with the largest weight will never be a part of the minimum spanning tree.
Cut Property
To understand the cut property, let us first cut our graph as shown below.
Here, the edges we are cutting through (also known as cut edges) are having weights 3, 4 and 2. Out of these edges, the edge with the least weight is 2.
So, by the cut property, this edge will be a part of the minimum spanning tree.
Thus, by the cut property, if we cut a graph, the cutting edge with the least weight will always be a part of the minimum spanning tree.
These were all the crucial properties of a minimum spanning tree, let’s move on to some of the frequently asked questions of this topic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What is a minimum spanning tree?
A1) A spanning tree is a connected and undirected graph (n  1) number of edges, where n is the number of vertices. If the edges have weights, the path with the least sum of weights is called the minimum spanning tree.
Q2)What are the properties of a minimum spanning tree?
A2)The properties of an MST are:
 Possible Multiplicity
 Uniqueness
 Minimum Cost Subgraph
 Minimum Cost Edge
 Cycle Property
 Cut Property
 Contraction
Q3)What does the possible multiplicity of an MST mean?
A3)Possible multiplicity means that an MST will have (n  1) edges where n is the number of vertices in the graph.
Q4)State the cycle property and the cut property of an MST.
A4)The cycle property states that in a cycle, the edge with the largest weight will never be a part of an MST.
By the cut property, if we cut a graph, the cutting edge with the least weight will always be a part of the minimum spanning tree.
Q5)What are some applications of an MST?
A5)Some applications of an MST are:
 Taxonomy
 Designing networks
 Circuit design

To describe financial markets
Key Takeaways
In this article, we learned what a minimum spanning tree is and what its different properties are. Now that we are well versed with the theoretical knowledge of minimum spanning trees, we should know how to find them from a given graph. To do that, there are two algorithms, Kruskal’s algorithm and Prim’s algorithm.
Check out this problem  Duplicate Subtree In Binary Tree
Apart from this, there are many other algorithms that we need to learn and practice. Coding Ninjas Studio is a platform where you can find practice coding questions and the interview experience of people working in reputed companies to further your knowledge.
Happy Learning!