HW7: Sorting comparisons


Rate this product

HW7: Sorting comparisons [PAIR]
This assignment is due by 1pm on Monday, February 19 and is worth 16 points.
The goal of this assignment is to study the performance characteristics of several sorting
algorithms and to get practice and how to analyze algorithms. You will also get practice
articulating what an algorithm is doing in prose.
Setup and Requirements
This is a partner assignment (unless you were not assigned a partner). Your partner
assignments can be found on Moodle. You may certainly discuss the assignment and how
to get to your final solutions with your other classmates, but make sure to cite any sources
used or classmates consulted!
In this assignment, you’ll be doing a mixture of coding, designing timing experiments, and
analyzing your results. You’ll be thinking through what timing data makes sense to collect,
and writing your reasoning in a short report. Your report should be typed, and must be a
PDF. The easiest way to produce a PDF is to write your text in a text editor or a word
processing program, then export or print it to PDF. On a Mac (such as the Macs in the lab),
you can choose “Print” and then in the lower left corner there will be a “PDF” button. Click
on that button and choose “Save as PDF”. No format other than PDF is acceptable. If you
are familiar with LATEX, the PDF created from that is also a good option. (Feel free to ask
questions about this in office hours or on Slack!)
Investigation 1: Quicksort and small lists
As we discussed in class, quicksort implementations often switch to using a different sort
for small arrays. This is because the overhead of the recursive calls and the constant time
factors in quicksort dwarf the poorer asymptotic performance of the other sorting
algorithm when n is small. The sorting algorithm that we’ll use for these small arrays is
insertion sort.
I’ve provided you with a version of quicksort code in Your job is to
investigate how the performance of quicksort varies depending on when we switch to
insertion sort. This investigation would be useful in determining, for instance, what a
reasonable cutoff would be for the base case in our code.
Write code in main function of this class that performs experiments varying when this
switch to insertion sort occurs and collecting timing data. I’ve included an example of how
to collect timing data. You may first want to use one size of array to compare a broad
range of possible switch points, and then use another array to gather more fine-grained
data differentiating between a smaller range of switch points.
The second section of your report for this assignment should more broadly relate the size
of the data being sorted to quicksort’s overall performance (outside of the question of
when to switch to insertion sort). Describe what data you collected and why it was
appropriate, and present the data in a table or a graph. Explain any patterns you see in
your data and any hypotheses you have for why these patterns occur.
ShellSort and Gap Distance
ShellSort performs a sequence of insertion sorts at varying “gaps”, starting with something
large and eventually ending with a gap of one. Any sequence that contains a gap of one
will result in a correct sort, but different gap sequences vary significantly in their
A common gap sequence involves creating a sequence where each element differs from
the last by some multiplicative factor m. For example, if m is equal to 2, and you start with
a gap of 14, then in the next iteration the gap size with be 14/2 = 7. Then in the following
iteration you should have a gap of 7/2 = 3.5. However, you need to have integer gap sizes.
So, to get the actual gap, you will take the ceiling of this number (that is you will round
up). You’ll find the ceil function (part of the java.lang.Math package) helpful. So the next
gap is actually 4. Lastly, you never run with a gap of 2. If you calculate a gap of 2 , you
should instead automatically change this to a gap of 1. So, for our example where we start
with a gap of 14, we would have the following sequence of gaps: 14, 7, 4, 1.
I’ve provided you with a version of ShellSort code in Your job is to
explore how changing the value of the multiplicative factor m affects the performance of
ShellSort. Specifically, you should try out gaps of 2, 2.25, and additional values of your
choice to explore the pattern that arises as the gap changes. I’m asking you to try 2.25 as
it is used in many actual implementations of ShellSort; this is called Tokuda’s sequence,
for its inventor Naoyuki Tokuda. Since 2.25 is a decimal, make sure you are taking the
ceiling to get your gap values. Include your timing experiments in the main method
In your report, describe what you find about how the performance of shellsort changes as
the multiplicative factor used for the gap changes. For this section, you may have less
clear hypotheses about why you see the performance you do and that’s okay; do try to
articulate what factors you believe may be leading to differences in timing based on what
you know about shellsort and why its performance can be better than insertion sort.
Report Guidelines
Your report should describe the timing experiments you performed, the timing data that
you collect, and answers to the questions posed in the two individual investigations. You
should make sure to explain how the evidence you collected supports your claims, and
explain your choices about what evidence to collect for each question. Your report should
include tables and/or graphs to support your points.
Bring the analytical skills you’ve learned elsewhere to bear on this assignment. I encourage
you to think carefully about how to connect evidence and explanations. Imagine your
report is intended to help someone make decisions related to these three investigations
(e.g., when to switch to insertion sort for small lists). What information do they need to
know? Why do you think the timing data looks the way it does based on what you know
about how the algorithms work?
You should try to design your experiments in a way that will be convincing to the reader.
How could you compensate for the fact that timing data is “noisy,” with the same code
sometimes taking a little longer or shorter to run? You and/or your partner are welcome to
chat with me about your approach in office hours.
Your report should be a PDF file no longer than 5 pages, including any charts and graphs.
Note that no format other than PDF is acceptable.
Other Tips and Suggestions
• You may change the starter code I gave you in any way you please, although you
should ensure you don’t break the correctness of any of the sorts.
• Make sure your timing code times only the thing you actually want to time – i.e., the
sorting. It shouldn’t include file loading or printing to the console, as both of these
can take long and variable amounts of time that may swamp true differences in
execution time.
• You can use many different array sizes to explore the questions in this assignment.
Make sure the arrays you’re choosing are big enough to show real differences. If all
of your experiments take only 1 or 2 milliseconds, it will be very hard to understand
how your variations are related to differences in timing. Instead, use an array that’s
big enough to take at least hundreds of milliseconds to sort.
• Think carefully about what evidence to collect, and explain your hypotheses about
why you see the data that you do. Any time you make an assertion, think about how
to support it with evidence from your timing or from the way the code works.
• If you’re working with a partner, you should both contribute to all parts of the
assignment – experimenting and writing things up. Your timing and experiment code
should be done in paired programming style, and you should collaboratively decide
what timing data to collect; either of you should be able to explain the results that
you got from your timing experiments. You each may write drafts of parts of the
writeup by yourselves, but you should edit each other’s drafts and both of you
should be aware of everything that’s in the writeup; if you aren’t able to explain why
a particular section of the report includes the content it does and what the content
means, then you have violated the collaboration guidelines for this assignment.
• You may find it helpful when working on this assignment to consult with the Writing
Center, located at the west end of the fourth floor of the library. The consultants
there are trained to help with writing in multiple disciplines, including STEM fields
like CS!
Submission and Grading
Create a zip file of the following, to be handed in via Moodle:
•, with main() running your timing experiments
•, with main() running your timing experiments
• Your report. Remember: Your report should be a PDF file no longer than 5 pages
including charts and graphs. You can turn any type of a file on a Mac (like the lab
computers) into a PDF by selecting “Print…” and then choosing the “PDF” option in
the lower right corner. Just changing the file extension does not change the type of
a file.
Only one partner from each pair needs to submit the assignment. Specifically, put these
files into a directory named [your\_last\_name\_your\_partner’s\_last\_name]HW7, zip
this directory, upload it to Moodle.
This assignment is worth 16 points. 12 points for the write-up and 4 points for your
associated testing code.
Start early, ask lots of questions, and have fun! Eric, the lab assistants, and the prefect are
all here to help you succeed—don’t hesitate to ask for help!

Open chat
Need help?
Can we help you?