Sorting Linked Lists (part I)

June 16, 2009

The sorting algorithms we were taught in class were typically simplified versions of the algorithms that assumed that the data remained in memory and in contiguous memory locations, also known as an array. What we often have, however, are linked lists. Generalizing algorithms like the QuickSort to lists is not very hard in fact if we use a modification of the basic algorithm.

For lists with numerical keys (or values), there might be a simpler algorithm that scans the list in only one direction, so that simply linked lists are a perfectly cromulent data structure, that is, the radix sort.

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The Right Tool

September 14, 2008

On his blog, Occasionally Sane, my friend Gnuvince tries to make a case for Python as a first programming language. He presents Python with a series of bullets, each giving a reason why Python is a good choice. While I think it may be a good choice pedagogically, it may not be a good pragmatic choice when someone is learning a programming language to find a job, as one of his reader commented.

But I think that betting on a sole language to base a programming career on is about as silly as someone mastering only the hammer looking for a construction job. His limited skills might not permit him to find a job, and even if he finds one, he may be confined to menial, unchallenging tasks. To push the tool analogy further, another workman that masters a wide array of tools will probably be more solicited and appreciated in his work-group, and be lead to more and more complex tasks, and more responsibilities within his group. Programming is very much the same: sometimes, it just takes something else than a hammer, and the right guy for the job is the guy that has the largest toolbox—the one with the Torx screwdriver set.

Image from Wikimedia

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