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Min memory writes

Which sorting algorithm makes minimum number of memory writes?

February 1, 2011

Minimizing the number of writes is useful when making writes to some huge data set is very expensive, such as with EEPROMs or Flash memory, where each write reduces the lifespan of the memory.

Among the sorting algorithms that we generally study in our data structure and algorithm courses, Selection Sort makes least number of writes (it makes O(n) swaps).  But, Cycle Sort almost always makes less number of writes compared to Selection Sort.  In Cycle Sort, each value is either written zero times, if it’s already in its correct position, or written one time to its correct position. This matches the minimal number of overwrites required for a completed in-place sort.