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Radix Sort

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  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 09 Aug, 2022

The lower bound for the Comparison based sorting algorithm (Merge Sort, Heap Sort, Quick-Sort .. etc) is Ω(nLogn), i.e., they cannot do better than nLogn. Counting sort is a linear time sorting algorithm that sort in O(n+k) time when elements are in the range from 1 to k.

What if the elements are in the range from 1 to n2

We can’t use counting sort because counting sort will take O(n2) which is worse than comparison-based sorting algorithms. Can we sort such an array in linear time? 

Radix Sort is the answer. The idea of Radix Sort is to do digit by digit sort starting from least significant digit to most significant digit. Radix sort uses counting sort as a subroutine to sort.

The Radix Sort Algorithm 

Do the following for each digit I where I varies from the least significant digit to the most significant digit. Here we will be sorting the input array using counting sort (or any stable sort) according to the i’th digit.

Example:

Original, unsorted list: 170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66 Sorting by least significant digit (1s place) gives: [*Notice that we keep 802 before 2, because 802 occurred before 2 in the original list, and similarly for pairs 170 & 90 and 45 & 75.] 170, 90, 802, 2, 24, 45, 75, 66 Sorting by next digit (10s place) gives: [*Notice that 802 again comes before 2 as 802 comes before 2 in the previous list.] 802, 2, 24, 45, 66, 170, 75, 90 Sorting by the most significant digit (100s place) gives: 2, 24, 45, 66, 75, 90, 170, 802

What is the running time of Radix Sort? 

Let there be d digits in input integers. Radix Sort takes O(d*(n+b)) time where b is the base for representing numbers, for example, for the decimal system, b is 10. What is the value of d? If k is the maximum possible value, then d would be O(logb(k)). So overall time complexity is O((n+b) * logb(k)). Which looks more than the time complexity of comparison-based sorting algorithms for a large k. Let us first limit k. Let k <= nc where c is a constant. In that case, the complexity becomes O(nLogb(n)). But it still doesn’t beat comparison-based sorting algorithms. 
What if we make the value of b larger? What should be the value of b to make the time complexity linear? If we set b as n, we get the time complexity as O(n). In other words, we can sort an array of integers with a range from 1 to nc if the numbers are represented in base n (or every digit takes log2(n) bits). 

Applications of Radix Sort: 

  • In a typical computer, which is a sequential random-access machine, where the records are keyed by multiple fields radix sort is used. For eg., you want to sort on three keys month, day and year. You could compare two records on year, then on a tie on month and finally on the date. Alternatively, sorting the data three times using Radix sort first on the date, then on month, and finally on year could be used.
  • It was used in card sorting machines with 80 columns, and in each column, the machine could punch a hole only in 12 places. The sorter was then programmed to sort the cards, depending upon which place the card had been punched. This was then used by the operator to collect the cards which had the 1st row punched, followed by the 2nd row, and so on.

Is Radix Sort preferable to Comparison based sorting algorithms like Quick-Sort? 

If we have log2n bits for every digit, the running time of Radix appears to be better than Quick Sort for a wide range of input numbers. The constant factors hidden in asymptotic notation are higher for Radix Sort and Quick-Sort uses hardware caches more effectively. Also, Radix sort uses counting sort as a subroutine and counting sort takes extra space to sort numbers.

Key points about Radix Sort:

Some key points about radix sort are given here

  1. It makes assumptions about the data like the data must be between a range of elements.
  2. Input array must have the elements with the same radix and width.
  3. Radix sort works on sorting based on an individual digit or letter position.
  4. We must start sorting from the rightmost position and use a stable algorithm at each position.
  5. Radix sort is not an in-place algorithm as it uses a temporary count array.
     

FLowcharts

Flowchart radix sort, getmax

Flowchart countsort

Implementation: Radix Sort 

Following is a simple implementation of Radix Sort. For simplicity, the value of d is assumed to be 10. We recommend you to see Counting Sort for details of countSort() function in the below code.

C++




// C++ implementation of Radix Sort
 
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
 
// A utility function to get maximum value in arr[]
int getMax(int arr[], int n)
{
    int mx = arr[0];
    for (int i = 1; i < n; i++)
        if (arr[i] > mx)
            mx = arr[i];
    return mx;
}
 
// A function to do counting sort of arr[] according to
// the digit represented by exp.
void countSort(int arr[], int n, int exp)
{
    int output[n]; // output array
    int i, count[10] = { 0 };
 
    // Store count of occurrences in count[]
    for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
        count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10]++;
 
    // Change count[i] so that count[i] now contains actual
    //  position of this digit in output[]
    for (i = 1; i < 10; i++)
        count[i] += count[i - 1];
 
    // Build the output array
    for (i = n - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
        output[count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10] - 1] = arr[i];
        count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10]--;
    }
 
    // Copy the output array to arr[], so that arr[] now
    // contains sorted numbers according to current digit
    for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
        arr[i] = output[i];
}
 
// The main function to that sorts arr[] of size n using
// Radix Sort
void radixsort(int arr[], int n)
{
    // Find the maximum number to know number of digits
    int m = getMax(arr, n);
 
    // Do counting sort for every digit. Note that instead
    // of passing digit number, exp is passed. exp is 10^i
    // where i is current digit number
    for (int exp = 1; m / exp > 0; exp *= 10)
        countSort(arr, n, exp);
}
 
// A utility function to print an array
void print(int arr[], int n)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < n; i++)
        cout << arr[i] << " ";
}
 
// Driver Code
int main()
{
    int arr[] = { 170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66 };
    int n = sizeof(arr) / sizeof(arr[0]);
     
      // Function Call
      radixsort(arr, n);
    print(arr, n);
    return 0;
}

Java




// Radix sort Java implementation
 
import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;
 
class Radix {
 
    // A utility function to get maximum value in arr[]
    static int getMax(int arr[], int n)
    {
        int mx = arr[0];
        for (int i = 1; i < n; i++)
            if (arr[i] > mx)
                mx = arr[i];
        return mx;
    }
 
    // A function to do counting sort of arr[] according to
    // the digit represented by exp.
    static void countSort(int arr[], int n, int exp)
    {
        int output[] = new int[n]; // output array
        int i;
        int count[] = new int[10];
        Arrays.fill(count, 0);
 
        // Store count of occurrences in count[]
        for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
            count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10]++;
 
        // Change count[i] so that count[i] now contains
        // actual position of this digit in output[]
        for (i = 1; i < 10; i++)
            count[i] += count[i - 1];
 
        // Build the output array
        for (i = n - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
            output[count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10] - 1] = arr[i];
            count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10]--;
        }
 
        // Copy the output array to arr[], so that arr[] now
        // contains sorted numbers according to current
        // digit
        for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
            arr[i] = output[i];
    }
 
    // The main function to that sorts arr[] of
    // size n using Radix Sort
    static void radixsort(int arr[], int n)
    {
        // Find the maximum number to know number of digits
        int m = getMax(arr, n);
 
        // Do counting sort for every digit. Note that
        // instead of passing digit number, exp is passed.
        // exp is 10^i where i is current digit number
        for (int exp = 1; m / exp > 0; exp *= 10)
            countSort(arr, n, exp);
    }
 
    // A utility function to print an array
    static void print(int arr[], int n)
    {
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++)
            System.out.print(arr[i] + " ");
    }
 
    // Main driver method
    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
        int arr[] = { 170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66 };
        int n = arr.length;
 
        // Function Call
        radixsort(arr, n);
        print(arr, n);
    }
}

Python3




# Python program for implementation of Radix Sort
# A function to do counting sort of arr[] according to
# the digit represented by exp.
 
def countingSort(arr, exp1):
 
    n = len(arr)
 
    # The output array elements that will have sorted arr
    output = [0] * (n)
 
    # initialize count array as 0
    count = [0] * (10)
 
    # Store count of occurrences in count[]
    for i in range(0, n):
        index = arr[i] // exp1
        count[index % 10] += 1
 
    # Change count[i] so that count[i] now contains actual
    # position of this digit in output array
    for i in range(1, 10):
        count[i] += count[i - 1]
 
    # Build the output array
    i = n - 1
    while i >= 0:
        index = arr[i] // exp1
        output[count[index % 10] - 1] = arr[i]
        count[index % 10] -= 1
        i -= 1
 
    # Copying the output array to arr[],
    # so that arr now contains sorted numbers
    i = 0
    for i in range(0, len(arr)):
        arr[i] = output[i]
 
# Method to do Radix Sort
def radixSort(arr):
 
    # Find the maximum number to know number of digits
    max1 = max(arr)
 
    # Do counting sort for every digit. Note that instead
    # of passing digit number, exp is passed. exp is 10^i
    # where i is current digit number
    exp = 1
    while max1 / exp >= 1:
        countingSort(arr, exp)
        exp *= 10
 
 
# Driver code
arr = [170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66]
 
# Function Call
radixSort(arr)
 
for i in range(len(arr)):
    print(arr[i],end=" ")
 
# This code is contributed by Mohit Kumra
# Edited by Patrick Gallagher

C#




// C# implementation of Radix Sort
using System;
 
class GFG {
    public static int getMax(int[] arr, int n)
    {
        int mx = arr[0];
        for (int i = 1; i < n; i++)
            if (arr[i] > mx)
                mx = arr[i];
        return mx;
    }
 
    // A function to do counting sort of arr[] according to
    // the digit represented by exp.
    public static void countSort(int[] arr, int n, int exp)
    {
        int[] output = new int[n]; // output array
        int i;
        int[] count = new int[10];
 
        // initializing all elements of count to 0
        for (i = 0; i < 10; i++)
            count[i] = 0;
 
        // Store count of occurrences in count[]
        for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
            count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10]++;
 
        // Change count[i] so that count[i] now contains
        // actual
        //  position of this digit in output[]
        for (i = 1; i < 10; i++)
            count[i] += count[i - 1];
 
        // Build the output array
        for (i = n - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
            output[count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10] - 1] = arr[i];
            count[(arr[i] / exp) % 10]--;
        }
 
        // Copy the output array to arr[], so that arr[] now
        // contains sorted numbers according to current
        // digit
        for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
            arr[i] = output[i];
    }
 
    // The main function to that sorts arr[] of size n using
    // Radix Sort
    public static void radixsort(int[] arr, int n)
    {
        // Find the maximum number to know number of digits
        int m = getMax(arr, n);
 
        // Do counting sort for every digit. Note that
        // instead of passing digit number, exp is passed.
        // exp is 10^i where i is current digit number
        for (int exp = 1; m / exp > 0; exp *= 10)
            countSort(arr, n, exp);
    }
 
    // A utility function to print an array
    public static void print(int[] arr, int n)
    {
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++)
            Console.Write(arr[i] + " ");
    }
 
    // Driver Code
    public static void Main()
    {
        int[] arr = { 170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66 };
        int n = arr.Length;
 
        // Function Call
        radixsort(arr, n);
        print(arr, n);
    }
 
    // This code is contributed by DrRoot_
}

PHP




<?php
// PHP implementation of Radix Sort
 
 
// A function to do counting sort of arr[]
// according to the digit represented by exp.
function countSort(&$arr, $n, $exp)
{
    $output = array_fill(0, $n, 0); // output array
    $count = array_fill(0, 10, 0);
 
    // Store count of occurrences in count[]
    for ($i = 0; $i < $n; $i++)
        $count[ ($arr[$i] / $exp) % 10 ]++;
 
    // Change count[i] so that count[i]
    // now contains actual position of
    // this digit in output[]
    for ($i = 1; $i < 10; $i++)
        $count[$i] += $count[$i - 1];
 
    // Build the output array
    for ($i = $n - 1; $i >= 0; $i--)
    {
        $output[$count[ ($arr[$i] /
                         $exp) % 10 ] - 1] = $arr[$i];
        $count[ ($arr[$i] / $exp) % 10 ]--;
    }
 
    // Copy the output array to arr[], so
    // that arr[] now contains sorted numbers
    // according to current digit
    for ($i = 0; $i < $n; $i++)
        $arr[$i] = $output[$i];
}
 
// The main function to that sorts arr[]
// of size n using Radix Sort
function radixsort(&$arr, $n)
{
     
    // Find the maximum number to know
    // number of digits
    $m = max($arr);
 
    // Do counting sort for every digit. Note
    // that instead of passing digit number,
    // exp is passed. exp is 10^i where i is
    // current digit number
    for ($exp = 1; $m / $exp > 0; $exp *= 10)
        countSort($arr, $n, $exp);
}
 
// A utility function to print an array
function PrintArray(&$arr,$n)
{
    for ($i = 0; $i < $n; $i++)
        echo $arr[$i] . " ";
}
 
// Driver Code
$arr = array(170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66);
$n = count($arr);
 
// Function Call
radixsort($arr, $n);
PrintArray($arr, $n);
 
// This code is contributed by rathbhupendra
?>

Javascript




<script>
// Radix sort Javascript implementation
 
// A utility function to get maximum value in arr[]
function getMax(arr,n)
{
    let mx = arr[0];
        for (let i = 1; i < n; i++)
            if (arr[i] > mx)
                mx = arr[i];
        return mx;
}
 
// A function to do counting sort of arr[] according to
    // the digit represented by exp.
function countSort(arr,n,exp)
{
    let output = new Array(n); // output array
        let i;
        let count = new Array(10);
        for(let i=0;i<10;i++)
            count[i]=0;
  
        // Store count of occurrences in count[]
        for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
            count[Math.floor(arr[i] / exp) % 10]++;
  
        // Change count[i] so that count[i] now contains
        // actual position of this digit in output[]
        for (i = 1; i < 10; i++)
            count[i] += count[i - 1];
  
        // Build the output array
        for (i = n - 1; i >= 0; i--) {
            output[count[Math.floor(arr[i] / exp) % 10] - 1] = arr[i];
            count[Math.floor(arr[i] / exp) % 10]--;
        }
  
        // Copy the output array to arr[], so that arr[] now
        // contains sorted numbers according to current digit
        for (i = 0; i < n; i++)
            arr[i] = output[i];
}
 
// The main function to that sorts arr[] of size n using
    // Radix Sort
function radixsort(arr,n)
{
    // Find the maximum number to know number of digits
        let m = getMax(arr, n);
  
        // Do counting sort for every digit. Note that
        // instead of passing digit number, exp is passed.
        // exp is 10^i where i is current digit number
        for (let exp = 1; Math.floor(m / exp) > 0; exp *= 10)
            countSort(arr, n, exp);
}
 
// A utility function to print an array
function print(arr,n)
{
    for (let i = 0; i < n; i++)
            document.write(arr[i] + " ");
}
 
/*Driver Code*/
let arr=[170, 45, 75, 90, 802, 24, 2, 66];
let n = arr.length;
 
// Function Call
radixsort(arr, n);
print(arr, n);
 
 
// This code is contributed by rag2127
</script>

Output

2 24 45 66 75 90 170 802 

Following is another way of the implementation of the radix sort while using the bucket sort technique, it might not look simple while having a look at the code but if you give it a shot it’s quite easy, one must know Bucket Sort to deeper depth.

C++




// implementation of radix sort using bin/bucket sort
#include <bits/stdc++.h>
using namespace std;
 
// structure for a single linked list to help further in the
// sorting
struct node {
    int data;
    node* next;
};
 
// function for creating a new node in the linked list
struct node* create(int x)
{
    node* temp = new node();
    temp->data = x;
    temp->next = NULL;
 
    return temp;
}
 
// utility function to append node in the linked list
// here head is passed by reference, to know more about this
// search pass by reference
void insert(node*& head, int n)
{
    if (head == NULL) {
        head = create(n);
        return;
    }
 
    node* t = head;
    while (t->next != NULL)
        t = t->next;
    t->next = create(n);
}
 
// utility function to pop an element from front in the list
// for the sake of stability in sorting
int del(node*& head)
{
    if (head == NULL)
        return 0;
    node* temp = head;
    // storing the value of head before updating
    int val = head->data;
 
    // updation of head to next node
    head = head->next;
 
    delete temp;
    return val;
}
 
// utility function to get the number of digits in the
// max_element
int digits(int n)
{
    int i = 1;
    if (n < 10)
        return 1;
 
    while (n > (int)pow(10, i))
        i++;
    return i;
}
 
void radix_sort(vector<int>& arr)
{
    // size of the array to be sorted
    int sz = arr.size();
 
    // getting the maximum element in the array
    int max_val = *max_element(arr.begin(), arr.end());
 
    // getting digits in the maximum element
    int d = digits(max_val);
 
    // creating buckets to store the pointers
    node** bins;
 
    // array of pointers to linked list of size 10 as
    // integers are decimal numbers so they can hold numbers
    // from 0-9 only, that's why size of 10
 
    bins = new node*[10];
 
    // initializing the hash array with null to all
    for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
        bins[i] = NULL;
 
    // first loop working for a constant time only and inner
    // loop is iterating through the array to store elements
    // of array in the linked list by their digits value
    for (int i = 0; i < d; i++) {
        for (int j = 0; j < sz; j++) // bins updation
            insert(bins[(arr[j] / (int)pow(10, i)) % 10],
                   arr[j]);
 
        int x = 0, y = 0;
        // write back to the array after each pass
 
        while (x < 10) {
            while (bins[x] != NULL)
                arr[y++] = del(bins[x]);
            x++;
        }
    }
}
 
// a utility function to print the sorted array
void print(vector<int> arr)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < arr.size(); i++)
        cout << arr[i] << " ";
    cout << endl;
}
 
int main()
{
    vector<int> arr = { 573, 25, 415, 12, 161, 6 };
 
    // function call
    radix_sort(arr);
    print(arr);
 
    return 0;
}

Output

6 12 25 161 415 573 

Time complexities remain the same as in the first method, it’s just the implementation through another method.

Radix Sort on Strings: Radix sort is mostly used to sort the numerical values or the real values, but it can be modified to sort the string values in lexicographical order. It follows the same procedure as used for numerical values.

Please refer this IDE link for the implementation of the same.

Output

Input:[BCDEF, dbaqc, abcde, bbbbb]
Output:[abcde, bbbbb, BCDEF, dbaqc]

Snapshots: 

scene00577scene00649scene00793scene01009scene01225

Quiz on Radix Sort

Check out DSA Self Paced Course

Other Sorting Algorithms on GeeksforGeeks/GeeksQuiz:  

Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or if you want to share more information about the topic discussed above.


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