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Communications of the ACM


10 Optimizations on Linear Search

10 Optimizations on Linear Search, illustration


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A friend was asked the following question during a job interview: What is the fastest algorithm to find the largest number in an unsorted array?

The catch, of course, is that the data is unsorted. Because of that, each item must be examined; thus, the best algorithm would require O(N) comparisons, where N is the number of elements. Any computer scientist knows this. For that reason, the fastest algorithm will be a linear search through the list.


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