Dag processing

Identifying cyclic dependencies in DAG might sound intimidating but it is quite simple. In this article I will be showing to do it via Topological sorting. Topological sorting is simply the process of Linearizing a DAG. If Graph is cyclic your Topological sorting will fail (cannot proceed).

How the it works

Lets say you have Graph called unsorted_graph as shown in the below image. You now traverse your graph starting with nodes that don't have any dependencies (no incoming edges). In our example these nodes will be Node A and G. Node A and G are removed from unsorted_graph and moved to our new target graph sorted_graph. Then again the source graph is queried for free nodes with no dependencies (no incoming edges). This time it will Node B (since Node A is already removed from the graph) and it will placed into the new graph preserving its dependency with A. The process is repeated untill there are no more nodes in your source graph.

Directed Acyclic Graph

Identify cyclic dependencies

In case of a DAG we would navigate all its nodes and we would created a new sorted graph. But if we had cyclic dependencies in our graph, We would go to point sooner or later where there are no more free nodes in the graph but the graph still has two or more nodes left in it. We get caught in a classic deadlock scenario where all nodes dependent on someother nodes in the graph and there are no free nodes anymore.

Code snippet

Below is a functional, immutable and tail recursive implementation of topological sorting of graphs in scala.

case class Node(id: Int, dependencies: List[Node] = List()) {

  def this(id: Int, node: Node) = this(id,List(node))

  override def equals(that: Any): Boolean = {
    that match {
      case node: Node => node.id == this.id
      case _ => false

  override def toString = {
    s"$id -> ${(dependencies map {_.id}).mkString(",")}"


class Dag(val graph: List[Node]) {

  def sort(): Dag = {
    new Dag(topSort(graph))

  private def topSort(unsorted_graph: List[Node], sorted_graph: List[Node] = Nil):List[Node] = {
    (unsorted_graph ,sorted_graph) match {
      case (Nil,a) =>  a
      case _ => {
        val open_nodes = unsorted_graph collect {
          case node @ Node(_,Nil) => node
          case node @ Node(_, dependencies) if dependencies forall { sorted_graph contains _ } => node
        if (open_nodes isEmpty) { throw new RuntimeException("Cycles Detected in DAG")}
        topSort(unsorted_graph filterNot { open_nodes contains _  },sorted_graph ++ open_nodes)

  override def toString = {

Sample Execution
    val nodes = Node(1,Nil) :: Node(2,List(Node(1))) :: Node(3,List(Node(1))) :: Node(4,List(Node(2),Node(3))) ::
      Node(6,Nil) :: Node(5,List(Node(4),Node(6))) :: Nil
    val dag = new Dag(nodes)