# Number of comparison in sorting

posted 3 years ago

In Java we do perform sorting using comparable or comparator interfaces and for similar objects it can be done by Collection.sort() method. I wanted to know, for say if we have 5 objects to sort, how many comparison will going to take place? is it !n or !n-1. also wanted to know, is there any default implementation of compareTo and compare methods? if so what algorithm is used by it and how to compression of objects take place?

Thanks

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Ulf Dittmer

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posted 3 years ago

I did that ulf but I am not able to understand what Collections.sort() functioning, One thing I don't understand is we pass collection object from Collections.sort() method to compareTo() method that we override and from there we compare this.value to collectionObject.value... means we comparing what from what??

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posted 3 years ago

This can't be answer exactly -- certainly not if the question is "is it N or N-1 comparisons?", meaning specific to an exact count. From the JavaDoc, the algorithm is a modified merge sort. And for those who studied what a merge sort is, it has an order of "N Log N", but ...

1. "N Log N" is only the complexity. It may be relative to the number of comparisons, and even then, it makes the assumption that N approaches infinity. So, you can get a relative scale, but not really an exact count.

2. With the merge sort, the "N Log N" is only a cap. It is actually data dependent. I believe merge sort needs less comparisons for a set of data that is more "sorted" than a completely random set of data.

3. The modified part of the merge sort will actually cause more comparisons, but depending on the result of the comparison, it may actually cause less comparisons. In other words, a more sorted set of data may trigger short cuts which may need less comparisons.

Henry

Kaustubh G Sharma wrote:In Java we do perform sorting using comparable or comparator interfaces and for similar objects it can be done by Collection.sort() method. I wanted to know, for say if we have 5 objects to sort, how many comparison will going to take place? is it !n or !n-1. also wanted to know, is there any default implementation of compareTo and compare methods? if so what algorithm is used by it and how to compression of objects take place?

This can't be answer exactly -- certainly not if the question is "is it N or N-1 comparisons?", meaning specific to an exact count. From the JavaDoc, the algorithm is a modified merge sort. And for those who studied what a merge sort is, it has an order of "N Log N", but ...

1. "N Log N" is only the complexity. It may be relative to the number of comparisons, and even then, it makes the assumption that N approaches infinity. So, you can get a relative scale, but not really an exact count.

2. With the merge sort, the "N Log N" is only a cap. It is actually data dependent. I believe merge sort needs less comparisons for a set of data that is more "sorted" than a completely random set of data.

3. The modified part of the merge sort will actually cause more comparisons, but depending on the result of the comparison, it may actually cause less comparisons. In other words, a more sorted set of data may trigger short cuts which may need less comparisons.

Henry

posted 3 years ago

Wooooo... Henry to understand this, will take years for me..I am very bad in mathematics I wrote a demo code for sorting 5 custom class objects using comparable interface and also keeping track of no. comparisons and I've got compareTo() method finish to run in 5 times.. how it does that?

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Ivan Jozsef Balazs

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Posts: 992

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posted 3 years ago

The number of the comparisions depends on

**both**the algorithm and the input data. As an extreme, you can sort N objects using N-1 comparisions: obviously if they happen to be in the ideal sequence, comparing them in their order lets you check with N-1 comparisions that they are already sorted.
posted 3 years ago

Just want to note that in Java 7, the merge sort algorithm previously used has been replaced with the "dual pivot quicksort" by Vladimir Yaroslavskiy, Jon Bentley, and Joshua Bloch for primitives and by TimSort for objects (since it is stable and quicksort is not). The information available for the dual pivot quicksort is exciting if you are interested in analysis of algorithms. Google it if you are interested.

posted 3 years ago

Interesting information. Thanks Scott

Scott Shipp wrote:Just want to note that in Java 7, the merge sort algorithm previously used has been replaced with the "dual pivot quicksort" by Vladimir Yaroslavskiy, Jon Bentley, and Joshua Bloch for primitives and by TimSort for objects (since it is stable and quicksort is not). The information available for the dual pivot quicksort is exciting if you are interested in analysis of algorithms. Google it if you are interested.

Interesting information. Thanks Scott

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