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In this paper, we present a polynomial time algorithm that gives an optimal solution to the routing and wavelength assignment (RWA) problem in a tree topology. One of the major design issues in wavelength-division multiplexed networks is the assignment of the limited number of wavelengths among network stations so that greater capacity can be achieved. The problem of RWA is known to be NP-hard problem. Many researchers have tackled the problem of RWA with a number of efficient heuristic algorithms. This paper presents an algorithm that optimally assigns a single wavelength to maximize one-hop traffic in a tree topology. The algorithm uses dynamic programming and is shown to be optimal with a time complexity of O(N4). We also propose a heuristic scheme to use our optimal algorithm for wavelength assignment in a general graph. The heuristic works on the tree subgraphs of a given graph and the remaining spare wavelengths can be assigned with an existing RWA policy.