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Merge Sort

Merge Sort is a divide-and-conquer algorithm that divides the input list into smaller sublists, sorts them recursively, and then merges the sorted sublists to produce a sorted output list.

It takes advantage of the fact that it is easier to merge two sorted lists than to sort a single unsorted list.

Here’s how the Merge Sort algorithm works:

  1. Divide the unsorted list into two equal-sized sublists (or approximately equal-sized for odd-length lists).
  2. Recursively sort the two sublists by applying the Merge Sort algorithm to each sublist.
  3. Merge the two sorted sublists back into a single sorted list.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until the entire list is sorted.

The key step in the Merge Sort algorithm is the merging of two sorted sublists.

To merge the sublists, follow these steps:

  1. Create an empty auxiliary array to hold the merged elements.
  2. Compare the first elements of both sublists. Take the smaller (or larger) element and append it to the auxiliary array.
  3. Move the pointer of the sublist from which the selected element was taken to the next element.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until one sublist is fully processed.
  5. Append the remaining elements of the other sublist to the auxiliary array.
  6. Copy the elements from the auxiliary array back into the original list, replacing the unsorted elements with the sorted elements.

Example:

Consider the following unsorted list of integers: [5, 3, 8, 2, 1].

Step 1:

  • Divide the list into two sublists: [5, 3] and [8, 2, 1].

Step 2:

  • Recursively sort the first sublist [5, 3]:
    • Divide the sublist into [5] and [3].
    • Since each sublist contains only one element, they are already considered sorted.
  • Recursively sort the second sublist [8, 2, 1]:
    • Divide the sublist into [8] and [2, 1].
    • Recursively sort the second sublist [2, 1]:
      • Divide the sublist into [2] and [1].
      • Since each sublist contains only one element, they are already considered sorted.
      • Merge the sublists [2] and [1]. The merged sublist becomes [1, 2].
    • Merge the sublists [8] and [1, 2]. The merged sublist becomes [1, 2, 8].

Step 3:

  • Merge the two sorted sublists [5, 3] and [1, 2, 8]. The merged sublist becomes [1, 2, 3, 5, 8].

The list is now sorted in ascending order: [1, 2, 3, 5, 8].

Merge Sort has a time complexity of O(n log n) in all cases, where ‘n’ is the number of elements in the list.

Merge Sort is considered efficient for large lists and guarantees a consistent performance regardless of the initial ordering of the elements.