The Order of an Algorithm

Suppose in a room full of people, every person is to shake hands with every other person. If the are people, a particular persona shakes hands with all the other people. The shaking of hands is repeated until all the people have shaken hands with the other people. It might be thought there are handshakes altogether. In fact, we have double counted because if person A shakes hands with person B then person B has shaken hands with person A. To avoid this double counting, we must divide by 2, so the number of handshakes is The highest power of in this expression is 2, so the order of the handshaking problem is 2. This means that if the number of people doubles from to the number of handshakes increases by a factor of Usually we wish to minimise the number of calculations or steps needed to carry out an algorithm. This means that lower order algorithms are desirable. There are many sorting algorithms. The bubble sort and insertion sort both have order 2, so there are terms in expressions for the number of steps to carry out the algorithm. The quicksort has order less than 2 for many lists (in the worst case scenario it also has order 2). In fact the number of steps for the quicksort typically varies as Since less steps are required to use the quicksort algorithm for sufficiently high values of than wither the bubble sort and insertion sort. 