(plural sort algorithms)
- (computing) Synonym of sorting algorithm.
A formula used to reorder data into a new sequence. Like all complicated problems, there are many solutions that can achieve the same results, and one sort algorithm can re-sequence data faster than another. In the early 1960s, when magnetic tape was "the" storage medium, the sale of a computer system may have hinged on the sort algorithm, since without direct access capability on disk, every transaction had to be sorted into the sequence of the master files in order to update them. Today, sorting is not quite as conspicuous a process as it used to be; however, reports are still presented in sequential order, and myriad indexes to hard disk data must be maintained in a sequential order. In-Memory Sorting Today's considerably larger memories enable many sorts to be performed entirely in memory. However, if there is insufficient memory, a sort program may be able to store data that is partially sorted temporarily on disk and merge that data later into the final sequence. See bubble sort, insertion sort, merge sort, quick sort, selection sort, pigeonhole sort and counting sort.