An algorithm that computes the best matching of two trees is described. The degree of mismatch, i.e., the distance, is measured in terms of the number of node splitting and merging operations required. The proposed tree distance is a more appropriate measurement of structural defonnation than the tree distance measure in terms of the number of insertions, deletions, and substitutions of tree nodes, as defined in previous studies. An algorithm that uses a divide-and-conquer strategy is presented. The analysis shows that the time complexity is O(NM2) where N and Al are the number of nodes of the two trees, respectively. The algorithm has been implemented on a VAX 11/780.