Data Structures and Algorithms

What is Radix Sort and How Does it Work?

In this article, I will explain What is Radix Sort and How Does it Work.

Radix sort is a non-comparative sorting algorithm that sorts data by processing the digits or characters of the items being sorted. It works by grouping the items to be sorted based on their individual digits or characters, and then sorting them based on those groups. This process is repeated until all the digits or characters have been considered and the items are sorted.

The algorithm works as follows:

  1. First, the data to be sorted is placed into buckets based on the value of their least significant digit (rightmost digit). For example, if sorting a list of integers, the first pass would sort the integers based on their units (rightmost) digit.
  2. Next, the items are collected from the buckets in order, and placed back into the original list in that order.
  3. The second pass then sorts the items again, but this time based on the value of their second least significant digit (second rightmost digit).
  4. This process is repeated for each subsequent digit until all digits have been considered.
  5. After the final pass, the items in the list are now sorted in ascending order.

One of the advantages of radix sort is that it has a linear time complexity, meaning that the time it takes to sort the items is proportional to the number of items being sorted. However, it does require extra memory to store the buckets and can be less efficient for small datasets. Additionally, the algorithm is not suitable for all types of data, such as non-integer or non-string data.

Further Reading

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