selection sort

The Problem

See the Sorting Problem.

The Algorithm

Suppose L={x1,x2,,xn} is the initial list of unsorted elements. The selection sortMathworldPlanetmath algorithmMathworldPlanetmath sorts this list in n steps. At each step i, find the largest element L[j] such that j<n-i+1, and swap it with the element at L[n-i+1]. So, for the first step, find the largest value in the list and swap it with the last element in the list. For the second step, find the largest value in the list up to (but not including) the last element, and swap it with the next to last element. This is continued for n-1 steps. Thus the selection sort algorithm is a very simple, in-place sorting algorithm.


Algorithm Selection_Sort(L, n)
Input: A list L of n elements
Output: The list L in sorted order

          for in downto 2 do




for j2 to i do

if L[j]>L[max] then






The selection sort algorithm has the same runtime for any set of n elements, no matter what the values or order of those elements are. Finding the maximum element of a list of i elements requires i-1 comparisons. Thus T(n), the number of comparisons required to sort a list of n elements with the selection sort, can be found:

T(n) = i=2n(i-1)
= i=1ni-n-2
= (n2-n-4)2
= 𝒪(n2)

However, the number of data movements is the number of swaps required, which is n-1. This algorithm is very similar to the insertion sort algorithm. It requires fewer data movements, but requires more comparisons.

Title selection sort
Canonical name SelectionSort
Date of creation 2013-03-22 11:44:42
Last modified on 2013-03-22 11:44:42
Owner mathcam (2727)
Last modified by mathcam (2727)
Numerical id 8
Author mathcam (2727)
Entry type Algorithm
Classification msc 68P10
Classification msc 05C50
Classification msc 05C25
Classification msc 83-01
Related topic InsertionSort
Related topic SortingProblem