Prim's Algorithm for minimum Spanning Tree in C

C Program to implement Graph Structure: Exercise-8 with Solution

Write a C program that implements Prim's algorithm to find the minimum spanning tree of a connected, undirected graph in C.

From Wikipedia,

In computer science, Prim's algorithm (also known as Jarník's algorithm) is a greedy algorithm that finds a minimum spanning tree for a weighted undirected graph. This means it finds a subset of the edges that forms a tree that includes every vertex, where the total weight of all the edges in the tree is minimized. The algorithm operates by building this tree one vertex at a time, from an arbitrary starting vertex, at each step adding the cheapest possible connection from the tree to another vertex.

Following Prim's algorithm starting at vertex A. In the third step, edges BD and AB both have weight 2, so BD is chosen arbitrarily. After that step, AB is no longer a candidate for addition to the tree because it links two nodes that are already in the tree.

A demo for Prim's algorithm based on Euclidean distance.

Source: Wikipdeia

Sample Solution:

C Code:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <limits.h>

#define MAX_VERTICES 100

// Function to find the vertex with the minimum key value
int minKey(int key[], int mstSet[], int vertices) {
    int min = INT_MAX, minIndex;

    for (int v = 0; v < vertices; v++) {
        if (!mstSet[v] && key[v] < min) {
            min = key[v];
            minIndex = v;

    return minIndex;

// Function to print the constructed MST stored in parent[]
void printMST(int parent[], int graph[MAX_VERTICES][MAX_VERTICES], int vertices) {
    printf("Edge \tWeight\n");
    for (int i = 1; i < vertices; i++) {
        printf("%d - %d \t%d\n", parent[i], i, graph[i][parent[i]]);

// Function to implement Prim's algorithm for a given graph
void primMST(int graph[MAX_VERTICES][MAX_VERTICES], int vertices) {
    int parent[MAX_VERTICES]; // Array to store the constructed MST
    int key[MAX_VERTICES];    // Key values used to pick the minimum weight edge
    int mstSet[MAX_VERTICES]; // To represent set of vertices included in MST

    // Initialize all keys as INFINITE and mstSet[] as false
    for (int i = 0; i < vertices; i++) {
        key[i] = INT_MAX;
        mstSet[i] = 0;

    // Always include the first vertex in the MST
    key[0] = 0; // Make key 0 so that this vertex is picked as the first vertex
    parent[0] = -1; // First node is always the root of the MST

    // The MST will have vertices-1 edges
    for (int count = 0; count < vertices - 1; count++) {
        // Pick the minimum key vertex from the set of vertices not yet included in the MST
        int u = minKey(key, mstSet, vertices);

        // Add the picked vertex to the MST Set
        mstSet[u] = 1;

        // Update key value and parent index of the adjacent vertices
        for (int v = 0; v < vertices; v++) {
            // graph[u][v] is non-zero only for adjacent vertices of m
            // mstSet[v] is false for vertices not yet included in MST
            // Update the key only if the graph[u][v] is smaller than the key[v]
            if (graph[u][v] && !mstSet[v] && graph[u][v] < key[v]) {
                parent[v] = u;
                key[v] = graph[u][v];

    // Print the constructed MST
    printMST(parent, graph, vertices);

int main() {
    int vertices;

    // Input the number of vertices
    printf("Input the number of vertices: ");
    scanf("%d", &vertices);

    if (vertices <= 0 || vertices > MAX_VERTICES) {
        printf("Invalid number of vertices. Exiting...\n");
        return 1;


    // Input the adjacency matrix representing the graph
    printf("Input the adjacency matrix for the graph:\n");
    for (int i = 0; i < vertices; i++) {
        for (int j = 0; j < vertices; j++) {
            scanf("%d", &graph[i][j]);

    // Perform Prim's algorithm to find the MST
    primMST(graph, vertices);

    return 0;


Input the number of vertices: 5
Input the adjacency matrix for the graph:
0 2 0 6 0
2 0 3 8 5
0 3 0 0 7
6 8 0 0 9
0 5 7 9 0
Edge    Weight
0 - 1   2
1 - 2   3
0 - 3   6
1 - 4   5


In the exercise above,

  • minKey function: Finds the vertex with the minimum key value in the 'key' array, considering only the vertices not yet included in the Minimum Spanning Tree (MST).
  • printMST function: Prints the edges and weights of the constructed MST, using the parent array.
  • primMST function: Implements Prim's algorithm. It initializes key values, sets, and 'parent' array. It iteratively selects the vertex with the minimum key value from the set of vertices not included in MST, updates key values and parent indices of adjacent vertices.
  • The program takes user input for the number of vertices and the adjacency matrix representing the graph.
  • The output is the edges and their weights in the MST.


Flowchart: Cycle detection in Graph: C Program implementation.
Flowchart: Cycle detection in Graph: C Program implementation.

C Programming Code Editor:

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Next: Dijkstra's Algorithm for shortest paths in C.

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