# Comparing Bubble and Merge Sorting Algorithms

Published on Friday, August 11, 2023

Imagine you’re building an app and need to sort a massive list of data – maybe product prices, customer names, or high scores. Choosing the right sorting algorithm can make a huge difference in performance. Today, we’ll pit two popular contenders against each other: **bubble** and **merge**.

Before we dive into the code, let’s briefly explore the basics of both algorithms. If you’re eager to see the action, feel free to jump straight to the code comparison here.

*Bubble* Sort

The best fact about the bubble sorting algorithm is, arguably, the speculation on when it was invented. It was first described in *1955* (published *1956*) by **Edward Harry Friend**, he called this a *sorting exchange algorithm*. This went unnoticed for years, until **Kenneth E. Iverson** found it in *1962* and coined the name `Bubble`

sort.

The worst-case performance of this is $O(n^2)$.

**The Bubble Sort** is a simple, yet often inefficient, sorting algorithm. It’s a classic choice for beginners due to its straightforward logic, but it’s not the best option for large datasets.

### A Brief History

The bubble sort was first described in 1955 (published in 1956) by Edward Harry Friend, who referred to it as a “sorting exchange algorithm.” However, it remained relatively unknown until Kenneth E. Iverson rediscovered it in 1962 and coined the name “Bubble Sort.”

### How It Works

The bubble sort works by repeatedly stepping through the list, comparing adjacent pairs of elements and swapping them if they are in the wrong order. This process is repeated until no swaps are needed, indicating that the list is sorted.

### Time Complexity

The worst-case time complexity of the bubble sort is **O(n^2)**, which means it’s not suitable for large datasets. In the best case, when the list is already sorted, the bubble sort has a time complexity of **O(n)**. However, this is rare in practice.

### Advantages and Disadvantages

**Advantages:**

- Simple to understand and implement
- Can be useful for small datasets or nearly sorted lists

**Disadvantages:**

- Inefficient for large datasets
- Slow compared to other sorting algorithms

### When to Use Bubble Sort

While bubble sort is not the most efficient sorting algorithm, it can be a good choice for:

**Small datasets:**When the number of elements is small, the overhead of more complex algorithms might not be justified.**Nearly sorted lists:**If the list is almost sorted, bubble sort can be efficient.**Educational purposes:**It’s a good algorithm to learn from due to its simplicity.

*Merge* Sort

**Merge Sort** is a highly efficient sorting algorithm that’s based on the **divide-and-conquer** strategy. It was invented in 1945 by the legendary computer scientist John von Neumann.

### How It Works

Merge sort operates in three main steps:

**Divide:**Divide the unsorted array into two approximately equal halves.**Conquer:**Recursively sort each half using merge sort.**Combine:**Merge the sorted halves into a single sorted array.

### Time Complexity

Merge sort consistently achieves a time complexity of $O(n\log n)$ in all cases, making it one of the most efficient sorting algorithms. This means its performance is guaranteed to be logarithmic even in the worst-case scenario.

### Advantages and Disadvantages

**Advantages:**

- Consistent $O(n\log n)$ time complexity
- Stable sorting algorithm (maintains the relative order of equal elements)
- Can be used for external sorting (sorting large datasets that don’t fit into memory)

**Disadvantages:**

- Requires additional space to store the merged subarrays
- May not be as efficient as quicksort in the best case

### When to Use Merge Sort

Merge sort is a good choice for:

**Large datasets:**Its consistent performance makes it suitable for sorting large arrays.**External sorting:**When the dataset is too large to fit into memory, merge sort can be adapted to work with external storage.**Stability:**If it’s important to maintain the relative order of equal elements.

**In conclusion,** merge sort is a powerful and efficient sorting algorithm that’s widely used in computer science. Its consistent performance and stability make it a valuable tool for various applications.

## The Clash

We put both algorithms to the test with a battlefield of 3500 random numbers. Now, let’s see who emerges victorious!

Now that we have some data to test on, we want to add the algorithm for the **bubble sort**. This goes as follows.

And of course the **merge sort** as well, otherwise we won’t have anything to compare against.

Now, let’s test the two against one another.

### Delve deeper:

For even more sorting options, explore our collection of sorting algorithms. Want to get your hands dirty with the code? Head over to **bubble sort VS. merge sort Implementation**.

## The Winner

Brace yourselves! The benchmark revealed that the **merge sort** is a staggering **0.71x** faster than its competitor! That translates to running the merge sort almost 1 times in the time it takes the bubble sort to complete once!

### The A.I. Nicknames the Winners:

We consulted a top-notch AI to give our champion a superhero nickname. From this day forward, the **merge sort** shall be known as ** The Merge Mastermind**! The bubble sort, while valiant, deserves recognition too. We present to you,

**!**

*The Bubble Buster*### The Choice is Yours, Young Padawan

So, does this mean the merge sort is the undisputed king of all sorting algorithms? Not necessarily. Different algorithms have their own strengths and weaknesses. But understanding their efficiency (which you can learn more about in the Big-O Notation post) helps you choose the best tool for the job!

This vast world of sorting algorithms holds countless possibilities. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover the next champion with lightning speed or memory-saving magic!

This showdown hopefully shed light on the contrasting speeds of *bubble* and *merge* sorting algorithms. Stay tuned for more algorithm explorations on the blog.