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Bubble sort is an elementary sorting algorithm, which sorts a sequence of numbers or other items in either ascending or descending order. It is a simple, but inefficient sorting algorithm that requires n-squared operations to sort an array of n elements. However, it can be very useful in certain circumstances when a simple, fast sort is required. In this article, we will cover the basics of bubble sort, as well as what it can be used for in Java.

## What is Bubble Sort?

Bubble sort is a sorting algorithm that orders elements in a given sequence, comparing any two adjacent items at each step and swapping their positions if necessary. It is commonly referred to as a “bubbling” sorting algorithm, as the largest or smallest elements tend to “bubble” up or down in the list. Bubble sort works by comparing every pair of adjacent items in the list and swapping their positions if they are out of order. This process continues until all items in the list are sorted properly.

Bubble sort is considered to be an inefficient sorting algorithm, as it requires multiple passes through the list of elements in order to sort them. It is also not suitable for large datasets, as the time complexity of the algorithm increases exponentially with the size of the dataset. Despite its inefficiency, bubble sort is still a popular sorting algorithm due to its simplicity and ease of implementation.

## How Does Bubble Sort Work?

Bubble sort is a straightforward algorithm that follows specific steps to sort an array of numbers. First, the algorithm begins at the first element of the array and compares it to the second element. If the first element is greater than the second one, their positions are swapped. The algorithm then proceeds to the next element and compares it with its following neighbour. This process continues until the largest element (or the smallest one depending on the sorting algorithm) reaches its correct position. The same process is repeated for each element in the array, starting from the beginning.

Once the algorithm has gone through the entire array, it will start again from the beginning and repeat the process until the array is completely sorted. Bubble sort is a simple algorithm, but it is not the most efficient. It can take a long time to sort large arrays, and it is not suitable for sorting large datasets. However, it is a good choice for sorting small datasets, as it is easy to understand and implement.

## Benefits of Bubble Sort

The bubble sort algorithm is simple and straightforward, making it easy to understand and implement. It also does minimal number of swaps when compared to other sorting algorithms, which can be beneficial for the performance of a program with large lists. In addition, bubble sort does not require any extra memory and performs only basic operations on data.

Bubble sort is also relatively easy to modify and optimize, making it a great choice for novice programmers. Furthermore, bubble sort is a stable sorting algorithm, meaning that it preserves the relative order of elements with equal keys. This can be useful in certain applications where order is important.

## Java Code for Bubble Sort

The following is an example of Java code for bubble sort.

``public class BubbleSort {    /**    * A function that sorts an array using bubble sort algorithm    * @param arr the array to be sorted     */    public static void bubbleSort(int[] arr) {        int n = arr.length;        int temp;        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {            for (int j = 1; j < (n - i); j++) {                if (arr[j - 1] > arr[j]) {                    temp = arr[j - 1];                    arr[j - 1] = arr[j];                    arr[j] = temp;                }            }        }    }    public static void main(String[] args) {        int[] array = {5, 3, 9, 1, 4};        //Print unsorted array        System.out.println("Unsorted Array: ");        for (int i : array) {            System.out.print(i + " ");        }        //Sort array using Bubble Sort        bubbleSort(array);        System.out.println("\nSorted Array: ") ;        for (int i : array) {            System.out.print(i + " ");        }    }}``

## Example of Bubble Sort in Action

To illustrate how bubble sort works, we will use the following example of an unsorted array containing 5, 3, 9, 1, 4.

We can then visualize how bubble sort works by looking at each pass in this example:

• First Pass: The first two elements 5, 3 are compared and swapped since 3 is smaller than 5.
• Second Pass: The next two elements 5 and 9 are compared and since 5 is smaller than 9 they are not swapped.
• Third Pass: The last two elements 1 and 4 are compared and since 1 is smaller than 4 they are swapped.

This process goes on until all elements have been sorted. After a single pass of bubble sort, our example array would look like this: 3, 5, 1, 4, 9.

## Pros and Cons of Bubble Sort

• Pros:
• It’s easy to design and implement bubble sort
• It’s a relatively fast sorting algorithm for small datasets
• Cons:
• Bubble sort operates at n-squared time complexity and hence is slow for large datasets
• It requires a large number of swaps and hence can be costly

## Alternatives to Bubble Sort

If you need to sort large datasets, then bubble sort may not be the most efficient option. Other sorting algorithms such as quick sort or merge sort can be much more efficient in terms of time complexity. These algorithms usually require more time to design and implement but they can significantly improve performance in cases where large datasets are involved.

## Conclusion

Bubble sort is an easy-to-understand algorithm that can be useful for small datasets where performance is not a primary concern. However, it can be inefficient for larger datasets and other faster sorting algorithms should be considered instead. #### Anand Das

Anand is Co-founder and CTO of Bito. He leads technical strategy and engineering, and is our biggest user! Formerly, Anand was CTO of Eyeota, a data company acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. He is co-founder of PubMatic, where he led the building of an ad exchange system that handles over 1 Trillion bids per day.