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Bubble Sort vs. Selection Sort — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on December 5, 2023
Bubble Sort repeatedly swaps adjacent elements if out of order, while Selection Sort finds the smallest (or largest) element and places it in its final position.
Bubble Sort vs. Selection Sort — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Bubble Sort and Selection Sort

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Key Differences

Bubble Sort operates by comparing adjacent elements in a list and swapping them if they're out of order, ensuring the largest (or smallest) element bubbles up to its correct position after each pass. In contrast, Selection Sort divides the input into a sorted and an unsorted region, continually selecting the smallest (or largest) element from the unsorted region and placing it in the sorted one.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023
In terms of efficiency, both Bubble Sort and Selection Sort have an average and worst-case time complexity of O(n^2), where n is the number of elements. However, Bubble Sort generally makes more swaps and comparisons than Selection Sort for the same input.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023
Bubble Sort is often regarded as one of the most straightforward sorting algorithms to understand and implement. On the flip side, Selection Sort is also conceptually simple, focusing on selecting the smallest (or largest) element repeatedly.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023
The primary advantage of Bubble Sort is that it can determine if a list is already sorted in a single pass, making its best-case time complexity O(n). Conversely, Selection Sort does not have this adaptive property and always performs the same number of comparisons, regardless of the input order.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023
A key characteristic of Bubble Sort is its adaptability; if during a pass no swaps are made, it knows the list is sorted and can break early. On the other hand, Selection Sort does not have this capability, consistently going through all its iterations even if the list is partially or entirely sorted.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Method

Swaps adjacent elements if out of order
Finds smallest (or largest) and places in final position
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Efficiency

Generally more swaps than Selection Sort
Typically fewer swaps than Bubble Sort
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Concept

"Bubbling" the largest element to its correct position
Continually "selecting" the smallest element
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Best-case Time Complexity

O(n) (if list is already sorted)
O(n^2) always
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Adaptive Nature

Can determine if list is sorted and break early
Always performs full number of comparisons
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Bubble Sort

Has a best-case time complexity of O(n) if the list is already sorted.
The benefit of Bubble Sort is its efficiency on nearly sorted data.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Selection Sort

Divides the list into sorted and unsorted regions.
Using Selection Sort, he saw the sorted part of the list grow with each iteration.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Bubble Sort

Known for its method of "bubbling" the largest element up.
Using Bubble Sort, the largest number ended up at the end of the list after the first pass.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Selection Sort

A sorting algorithm that selects the smallest (or largest) element and places it in its sorted position.
He was intrigued by the method Selection Sort used to pick the smallest number repeatedly.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Bubble Sort

A sorting algorithm that swaps adjacent elements if out of order.
She learned Bubble Sort as her first sorting technique in the class.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Selection Sort

Typically makes fewer swaps than Bubble Sort.
He preferred Selection Sort over Bubble Sort when minimizing swaps was crucial.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Bubble Sort

Recognizable by its repetitive adjacent element comparisons.
While applying Bubble Sort, he noticed many adjacent swaps in the list.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Selection Sort

Known for its consistent number of comparisons, irrespective of input.
Unlike some other algorithms, Selection Sort took the same time on both sorted and unsorted lists.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Bubble Sort

Often taught to beginners due to its simplicity.
In introductory computer science, Bubble Sort was the first algorithm she coded.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Selection Sort

Continually selects the smallest element until the list is sorted.
With each pass of Selection Sort, the next smallest number found its place.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 22, 2023

Common Curiosities

Which sorting algorithm is often taught first to beginners?

Bubble Sort is often introduced first due to its simplicity.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

What's the primary method of Bubble Sort?

Bubble Sort swaps adjacent elements if they're out of order.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Which sort typically performs more swaps, Bubble or Selection?

Bubble Sort generally makes more swaps than Selection Sort.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Is Bubble Sort efficient on nearly sorted data?

Yes, Bubble Sort's best-case time complexity is O(n) if the list is already sorted.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Can Bubble Sort detect when the list becomes sorted?

Yes, if no swaps are made during a pass, Bubble Sort knows the list is sorted and can break early.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Why is Bubble Sort called "Bubble" Sort?

It's named for the way the largest element "bubbles up" to its correct position during each pass.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Does Selection Sort have an adaptive nature like Bubble Sort?

No, Selection Sort always performs its full number of comparisons, even on sorted data.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

How many passes does Selection Sort require?

Selection Sort requires n-1 passes for a list of n elements.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

How does Selection Sort work?

Selection Sort selects the smallest (or largest) element and places it in its final sorted position.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

How does Selection Sort handle already sorted lists?

Selection Sort performs the same number of comparisons, regardless of whether the list is sorted or not.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Are there any situations where Selection Sort is preferable?

Selection Sort might be preferable when minimizing the number of swaps is more crucial than comparisons.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

How do the time complexities of Bubble and Selection Sort compare?

Both have an average and worst-case time complexity of O(n^2), but Bubble Sort can be O(n) in the best case.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Which algorithm is more intuitive for beginners?

Both are relatively straightforward, but many find Bubble Sort's "bubbling" method slightly more intuitive.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

Are these sorts used in real-world applications?

They're primarily educational due to their inefficiencies, but they might be used in specific contexts on small datasets.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

How does Selection Sort decide which element to swap?

It consistently selects the smallest (or largest) element from the unsorted region and swaps it with the first unsorted element.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 05, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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