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  1. Getting Started with Algorithm
    What is an Algorithm?
  2. Characteristics of Algorithm
    1 Topic
  3. Analysis Framework
  4. Performance Analysis
    3 Topics
  5. Mathematical Analysis
    2 Topics
  6. Sorting Algorithm
    Sorting Algorithm
    10 Topics
  7. Searching Algorithm
    6 Topics
  8. Fundamental of Data Structures
  9. Queues
  10. Graphs
  11. Trees
  12. Sets
  13. Dictionaries
  14. Divide and Conquer
    General Method
  15. Binary Search
  16. Recurrence Equation for Divide and Conquer
  17. Finding the Maximum and Minimum
  18. Merge Sort
  19. Quick Sort
  20. Stassen’s Matrix Multiplication
  21. Advantages and Disadvantages of Divide and Conquer
  22. Decrease and Conquer
    Insertion Sort
  23. Topological Sort
  24. Greedy Method
    General Method
  25. Coin Change Problem
  26. Knapsack Problem
  27. Job Sequencing with Deadlines
  28. Minimum Cost Spanning Trees
    2 Topics
  29. Single Source Shortest Paths
    1 Topic
  30. Optimal Tree Problem
    1 Topic
  31. Transform and Conquer Approach
    1 Topic
  32. Dynamic Programming
    General Method with Examples
  33. Multistage Graphs
  34. Transitive Closure
    1 Topic
  35. All Pairs Shortest Paths
    6 Topics
  36. Backtracking
    General Method
  37. N-Queens Problem
  38. Sum of Subsets problem
  39. Graph Coloring
  40. Hamiltonian Cycles
  41. Branch and Bound
    2 Topics
  42. 0/1 Knapsack problem
    2 Topics
  43. NP-Complete and NP-Hard Problems
    1 Topic
Lesson 6, Topic 5
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Heap Sort

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Heap Sort is a popular and efficient sorting algorithm in computer programming. Learning how to write the heap sort algorithm requires knowledge of two types of data structures – arrays and trees.

The initial set of numbers that we want to sort is stored in an array e.g. [10, 3, 76, 34, 23, 32] and after sorting, we get a sorted array [3,10,23,32,34,76]

Heap sort works by visualizing the elements of the array as a special kind of complete binary tree called heap.

What is a complete Binary Tree?

Binary Tree

A binary tree is a tree data structure in which each parent node can have at most two children

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In the above image, each element has at most two children.

Full Binary Tree

A full Binary tree is a special type of binary tree in which every parent node has either two or no children.

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Complete binary tree

A complete binary tree is just like a full binary tree, but with two major differences

  1. Every level must be completely filled
  2. All the leaf elements must lean towards the left.
  3. The last leaf element might not have a right sibling i.e. a complete binary tree doesn’t have to be a full binary tree.
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How to create a complete binary tree from an unsorted list (array)?

  • Select first element of the list to be the root node. (First level – 1 element)
  • Put the second element as a left child of the root node and the third element as a right child. (Second level – 2 elements)
  • Put next two elements as children of left node of second level. Again, put the next two elements as children of right node of second level (3rd level – 4 elements).
  • Keep repeating till you reach the last element.
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Relationship between array indexes and tree elements

Complete binary tree has an interesting property that we can use to find the children and parents of any node.

If the index of any element in the array is i, the element in the index 2i+1 will become the left child and element in 2i+2 index will become the right child. Also, the parent of any element at index i is given by the lower bound of (i-1)/2.

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Let’s test it out,

Left child of 1 (index 0)
= element in (2*0+1) index
= element in 1 index
= 12
Right child of 1
= element in (2*0+2) index
= element in 2 index
= 9
Left child of 12 (index 1)
= element in (2*1+1) index
= element in 3 index
= 5
Right child of 12
= element in (2*1+2) index
= element in 4 index
= 6

Let us also confirm that the rules holds for finding parent of any node

Parent of 9 (position 2)
= (2-1)/2
= ½
= 0.5
~ 0 index
= 1
Parent of 12 (position 1)
= (1-1)/2
= 0 index
= 1

Understanding this mapping of array indexes to tree positions is critical to understanding how the Heap Data Structure works and how it is used to implement Heap Sort.

What is Heap Data Structure ?

Heap is a special tree-based data structure. A binary tree is said to follow a heap data structure if

  • it is a complete binary tree
  • All nodes in the tree follow the property that they are greater than their children i.e. the largest element is at the root and both its children and smaller than the root and so on. Such a heap is called a max-heap. If instead all nodes are smaller than their children, it is called a min-heap

Following example diagram shows Max-Heap and Min-Heap.

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How to “heapify” a tree

Starting from a complete binary tree, we can modify it to become a Max-Heap by running a function called heapify on all the non-leaf elements of the heap.

Since heapfiy uses recursion, it can be difficult to grasp. So let’s first think about how you would heapify a tree with just three elements.

    Root = array[0]
    Largest = largest( array[0] , array [2*0 + 1]. array[2*0+2])
    if(Root != Largest)
          Swap(Root, Largest)
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The example above shows two scenarios – one in which the root is the largest element and we don’t need to do anything. And another in which root had larger element as a child and we needed to swap to maintain max-heap property.

If you’re worked with recursive algorithms before, you’ve probably identified that this must be the base case.

Now let’s think of another scenario in which there are more than one levels.

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The top element isn’t a max-heap but all the sub-trees are max-heaps.

To maintain the max-heap property for the entire tree, we will have to keep pushing 2 downwards until it reaches its correct position.

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Thus, to maintain the max-heap property in a tree where both sub-trees are max-heaps, we need to run heapify on the root element repeatedly until it is larger than its children or it becomes a leaf node.

We can combine both these conditions in one heapify function as

void heapify(int arr[], int n, int i)
   int largest = i;
   int l = 2*i + 1;
   int r = 2*i + 2;
   if (l < n && arr[l] > arr[largest])
     largest = l;
   if (right < n && arr[r] > arr[largest])
     largest = r;
   if (largest != i)
     swap(arr[i], arr[largest]);
     // Recursively heapify the affected sub-tree
     heapify(arr, n, largest);

This function works for both the base case and for a tree of any size. We can thus move the root element to the correct position to maintain the max-heap status for any tree size as long as the sub-trees are max-heaps.

Build max-heap

To build a max-heap from any tree, we can thus start heapifying each sub-tree from the bottom up and end up with a max-heap after the function is applied on all the elements including the root element.

In the case of complete tree, the first index of non-leaf node is given by n/2 - 1. All other nodes after that are leaf-nodes and thus don’t need to be heapified.

So, we can build a maximum heap as

  // Build heap (rearrange array) 
  for (int i = n / 2 - 1; i >= 0; i--) 
    heapify(arr, n, i);
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As show in the above diagram, we start by heapifying the lowest smallest trees and gradually move up until we reach the root element.

If you’ve understood everything till here, congratulations, you are on your way to mastering the Heap sort.

Procedures to follow for Heapsort

  1. Since the tree satisfies Max-Heap property, then the largest item is stored at the root node.
  2. Remove the root element and put at the end of the array (nth position) Put the last item of the tree (heap) at the vacant place.
  3. Reduce the size of the heap by 1 and heapify the root element again so that we have highest element at root.
  4. The process is repeated until all the items of the list is sorted.
KodNest heap sort

The code below shows the operation.

for (int i=n-1; i>=0; i--)
     // Move current root to end
     swap(arr[0], arr[i]);
     // call max heapify on the reduced heap
     heapify(arr, i, 0);


Heap Sort has O(nlogn) time complexities for all the cases ( best case, average case and worst case).

Let us understand the reason why. The height of a complete binary tree containing n elements is log(n)

As we have seen earlier, to fully heapify an element whose subtrees are already max-heaps, we need to keep comparing the element with its left and right children and pushing it downwards until it reaches a point where both its children are smaller than it.

In the worst case scenario, we will need to move an element from the root to the leaf node making a multiple of log(n) comparisons and swaps.

During the build_max_heap stage, we do that for n/2 elements so the worst case complexity of the build_heap step is n/2*log(n) ~ nlogn.

During the sorting step, we exchange the root element with the last element and heapify the root element. For each element, this again takes logn worst time because we might have to bring the element all the way from the root to the leaf. Since we repeat this n times, the heap_sort step is also nlogn.

Also since the build_max_heap and heap_sort steps are executed one after another, the algorithmic complexity is not multiplied and it remains in the order of nlogn.

Also it performs sorting in O(1) space complexity. Comparing with Quick Sort, it has better worst case ( O(nlogn) ). Quick Sort has complexity O(n^2) for worst case. But in other cases, Quick Sort is fast. Introsort is an alternative to heapsort that combines quicksort and heapsort to retain advantages of both: worst case speed of heapsort and average speed of quicksort.

Application of Heap Sort

Systems concerned with security and embedded system such as Linux Kernel uses Heap Sort because of the O(n log n) upper bound on Heapsort’s running time and constant O(1) upper bound on its auxiliary storage.

Although Heap Sort has O(n log n) time complexity even for worst case, it doesn’t have more applications ( compared to other sorting algorithms like Quick Sort, Merge Sort ). However, its underlying data structure, heap, can be efficiently used if we want to extract smallest (or largest) from the list of items without the overhead of keeping the remaining items in the sorted order. For e.g Priority Queues.

Heap Sort Program in C

// C implementation of Heap Sort
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

// A heap has current size and array of elements
struct MaxHeap
    int size;
    int* array;

// A utility function to swap to integers
void swap(int* a, int* b) { int t = *a; *a = *b;  *b = t; }

// The main function to heapify a Max Heap. The function
// assumes that everything under given root (element at
// index idx) is already heapified
void maxHeapify(struct MaxHeap* maxHeap, int idx)
    int largest = idx;  // Initialize largest as root
    int left = (idx << 1) + 1;  // left = 2*idx + 1
    int right = (idx + 1) << 1; // right = 2*idx + 2

    // See if left child of root exists and is greater than
    // root
    if (left < maxHeap->size &&
        maxHeap->array[left] > maxHeap->array[largest])
        largest = left;

    // See if right child of root exists and is greater than
    // the largest so far
    if (right < maxHeap->size &&
        maxHeap->array[right] > maxHeap->array[largest])
        largest = right;

    // Change root, if needed
    if (largest != idx)
        swap(&maxHeap->array[largest], &maxHeap->array[idx]);
        maxHeapify(maxHeap, largest);

// A utility function to create a max heap of given capacity
struct MaxHeap* createAndBuildHeap(int *array, int size)
    int i;
    struct MaxHeap* maxHeap =
              (struct MaxHeap*) malloc(sizeof(struct MaxHeap));
    maxHeap->size = size;   // initialize size of heap
    maxHeap->array = array; // Assign address of first element of array

    // Start from bottommost and rightmost internal mode and heapify all
    // internal modes in bottom up way
    for (i = (maxHeap->size - 2) / 2; i >= 0; --i)
        maxHeapify(maxHeap, i);
    return maxHeap;

// The main function to sort an array of given size
void heapSort(int* array, int size)
    // Build a heap from the input data.
    struct MaxHeap* maxHeap = createAndBuildHeap(array, size);

    // Repeat following steps while heap size is greater than 1.
    // The last element in max heap will be the minimum element
    while (maxHeap->size > 1)
        // The largest item in Heap is stored at the root. Replace
        // it with the last item of the heap followed by reducing the
        // size of heap by 1.
        swap(&maxHeap->array[0], &maxHeap->array[maxHeap->size - 1]);
        --maxHeap->size;  // Reduce heap size

        // Finally, heapify the root of tree.
        maxHeapify(maxHeap, 0);

// A utility function to print a given array of given size
void printArray(int* arr, int size)
    int i;
    for (i = 0; i < size; ++i)
        printf("%d ", arr[i]);

/* Driver program to test above functions */
int main()
    int arr[] = {12, 11, 13, 5, 6, 7};
    int size = sizeof(arr)/sizeof(arr[0]);

    heapSort(arr, size);

    printf("\nSorted array is \n");
    printArray(arr, size);
    return 0;

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