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Visualizing Quick Sort using Tkinter in Python
  • Last Updated : 15 Mar, 2021

Prerequisite: QuickSort

Tkinter is a very easy-to-use and beginner-friendly GUI library that can be used to visualize the sorting algorithms. Here Quick Sort Algorithm is visualized which is a divide and conquer algorithm. It first considers a pivot element then, creates two subarrays to hold elements less than the pivot value and elements greater than the pivot value, and then recursively sort the sub-arrays. There are two fundamental operations in the algorithm, swapping items in place and partitioning a section of the array. The process is repeated by recursion until the sub-arrays are small enough to be sorted easily. Ultimately, the smaller sub-arrays can be placed one on top of the other to produce a fully sorted and ordered set of elements.

In this article, we will use the Python GUI Library Tkinter to visualize the QuickSort algorithm.  


  1. Selecting any elementas a pivot
  2. Elements lesser than the pivot are placed before it and the ones which are greater are placed after it. Two sub-arrays are created on either side of the pivot.
  3. The same process is applied recursively on the right and left sub-arrays to sort them.

Time Complexity :

  • Best case: The best-case occurs when the pivot always separates the array into two equal halves. In the best case, the result will be log(N) levels of partitions, with the top-level having one array of size N, the next having an array of size N/2, and so on. The best-case complexity of the quick sort algorithm is O(log N)
  • Worst case: The worst case will occur when the pivot does a poor job of breaking the array, i.e. when there are no elements in one partition and N-1 elements in the other. The worst-case time complexity of Quick Sort would be O(N^2).

Extension Code for Quick Sort :

This is the extension code for the quick sort algorithm which is imported in the main Tkinter visualizer code to implement the quick sort algorithm and return the sorted result. 


# Extension Quick Sort Code
# importing time module
import time
# to implement divide and conquer
def partition(data, head, tail, drawData, timeTick):
    border = head
    pivot = data[tail]
    drawData(data, getColorArray(len(data), head, 
                                 tail, border, border))
    for j in range(head, tail):
        if data[j] < pivot:
            drawData(data, getColorArray(
                len(data), head, tail, border, j, True))
            data[border], data[j] = data[j], data[border]
            border += 1
        drawData(data, getColorArray(len(data), head, 
                                     tail, border, j))
    # swapping pivot with border value
    drawData(data, getColorArray(len(data), head, 
                                 tail, border, tail, True))
    data[border], data[tail] = data[tail], data[border]
    return border
# head  --> Starting index,
# tail  --> Ending index
def quick_sort(data, head, tail, 
               drawData, timeTick):
    if head < tail:
        partitionIdx = partition(data, head, 
                                 tail, drawData, 
        # left partition
        quick_sort(data, head, partitionIdx-1
                   drawData, timeTick)
        # right partition
        quick_sort(data, partitionIdx+1
                   tail, drawData, timeTick)
# Function to apply colors to bars while sorting:
# Grey - Unsorted elements
# Blue - Pivot point element
# White - Sorted half/partition
# Red - Starting pointer
# Yellow - Ending pointer
# Green - Sfter all elements are sorted
# assign color representation to elements
def getColorArray(dataLen, head, tail, border,
                  currIdx, isSwaping=False):
    colorArray = []
    for i in range(dataLen):
        # base coloring
        if i >= head and i <= tail:
        if i == tail:
            colorArray[i] = 'Blue'
        elif i == border:
            colorArray[i] = 'Red'
        elif i == currIdx:
            colorArray[i] = 'Yellow'
        if isSwaping:
            if i == border or i == currIdx:
                colorArray[i] = 'Green'
    return colorArray

Tkinter Implementation:

In this code, we are generating the data values as bars of different lengths and a particular color. The basic layout is designed in a Tkinter ‘Frame’ and the portion when the bars are generated and the quick sort algorithm is visualized is designed in a Tkinter ‘Canvas’.

The code essentially has the following components:

  • Mainframe: a Tkinter frame to arrange all the necessary components(labels, buttons, speed bar, etc.) in an organized manner
  • Canvas: A Tkinter canvas used as the space where the generated data bars are drawn and the sorting process is visualized
  • generate(): Method to generate the data values by accepting a range and then passing that as a parameter to the drawData() function
  • drawData():  Method to generate bars to normalized data values(within the given range) of a particular color on the canvas
  • start_algorithm(): This function is called when the “START” button is pressed. It initiates the sorting process by calling the quick_sort() function from the Quick Sort Extension Code.


# code for Quick Sort Visualizer 
# using Python and Tkinter
# import modules
from tkinter import *
from tkinter import ttk
import random
from quick import quick_sort
# initialising root class for Tkinter
root = Tk()
root.title("Quick Sort Visualizer")
# maximum window size
root.maxsize(900, 600)
select_alg = StringVar()
data = []
# function to generate the data values 
# by accepting a given range
def generate():
    global data
    # minval : minimum value of the range
    minval = int(minEntry.get())
    # maxval : maximum value of the range
    maxval = int(maxEntry.get())
    # sizeval : number of data 
    # values/bars to be generated
    sizeval = int(sizeEntry.get())
    # creating a blank data list which will 
    # be further filled with random data values
    # within the entered range
    data = []
    for _ in range(sizeval):
        data.append(random.randrange(minval, maxval+1))
    drawData(data, ['Red' for x in range(len(data))])
# funtion to create the data bars 
# by creating a canvas in Tkinter
def drawData(data, colorlist):
    can_height = 380
    can_width = 550
    x_width = can_width/(len(data) + 1)
    offset = 30
    spacing = 10
    # normalizing data for rescaling real-valued 
    # numeric data within the
    # given range
    normalized_data = [i / max(data) for i in data]
    for i, height in enumerate(normalized_data):
        # top left corner
        x0 = i*x_width + offset + spacing
        y0 = can_height - height*340
        # bottom right corner
        x1 = ((i+1)*x_width) + offset
        y1 = can_height
        # data bars are generated as Red 
        # colored vertical rectangles
        canvas.create_rectangle(x0, y0, x1, y1, 
        canvas.create_text(x0+2, y0, anchor=SE, 
# function to initiate the sorting 
# process by calling the extension code
def start_algorithm():
    global data
    if not data:
    if (algmenu.get() == 'Quick Sort'):
        quick_sort(data, 0, len(data)-1, drawData, speedbar.get())
        drawData(data, ['Green' for x in range(len(data))])
# creating main user interface frame 
# and basic layout by creating a frame
Mainframe = Frame(root, width=600, height=200, bg="Grey")
Mainframe.grid(row=0, column=0, padx=10, pady=5)
canvas = Canvas(root, width=600, height=380, bg="Grey")
canvas.grid(row=1, column=0, padx=10, pady=5)
# creating user interface area in grid manner
# first row components
Label(Mainframe, text="ALGORITHM"
      bg='Grey').grid(row=0, column=0
                      padx=5, pady=5
# algorithm menu for showing the 
# name of the sorting algorithm
algmenu = ttk.Combobox(Mainframe, 
                       values=["Quick Sort"])
algmenu.grid(row=0, column=1, padx=5, pady=5)
# creating Start Button to start 
# the sorting visualization process
Button(Mainframe, text="START"
# creating Speed Bar using scale in Tkinter
speedbar = Scale(Mainframe, from_=0.10
                 to=2.0, length=100, digits=2,
                 resolution=0.2, orient=HORIZONTAL, 
                 label="Select Speed")
speedbar.grid(row=0, column=2
              padx=5, pady=5)
# second row components
# sizeEntry : scale to select 
# the size/number of data bars
sizeEntry = Scale(Mainframe, from_=3
                  to=60, resolution=1,
sizeEntry.grid(row=1, column=0
               padx=5, pady=5)
# minEntry : scale to select the 
# minimum value of data bars
minEntry = Scale(Mainframe, from_=0
                 to=10, resolution=1,
                 label="Minimun Value")
minEntry.grid(row=1, column=1
              padx=5, pady=5)
# maxEntry : scale to select the 
# maximum value of data bars
maxEntry = Scale(Mainframe, from_=10
                 to=100, resolution=1,
                 label="Maximun Value")
maxEntry.grid(row=1, column=2
              padx=5, pady=5)
# creating generate button
Button(Mainframe, text="Generate"
# to stop automatic window termination


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