# Curvesort in C++

Curvesort is an adaptive integer sorting algorithm I discovered independently. It maintains a doubly-linked list, whose nodes have the following structure (in pseudo-C code):

struct node {
int key;
int count;
node* next;
node* prev;
}


Above, count gives you the number of times key appeared in the sequence so far. The entire list is sorted by node.key values. Also, as the algorithm scans the input sequence, it keeps track of the last processed integer and the node that holds it. This allows us to insert a new element faster if it is "closer" to the previously processed integer.

The intuition behind the adaptiveness of the algorithm is as follows: if you draw a "graph" of the input sequence $A$ as a set of points $(i, A_i)$, the "smoother" the graph, the faster the algorithm finishes its work.

So the best running time is linear. Otherwise, it is not worse than $\Theta(nk)$, where $k$ is the number of distinct integers. Since $k \leq n$, the worst case running time is not worse than $\Theta(n^2)$.

My code is as follows:

curvesort.h:

#ifndef CURVESORT_H
#define CURVESORT_H

#include <algorithm>
#include <iostream>
#include <iterator>
#include <type_traits>

namespace net {

namespace coderodde {

namespace sorting {

template<typename Iter>
void sort_impl(Iter begin, Iter end, std::true_type)
{
using value_type =
typename std::iterator_traits<Iter>::value_type;

class Curvesort {

struct Node {
value_type key;
size_t count;
struct Node* prev;
struct Node* next;

Node(value_type key) : key{key}, count{1} {}
};

value_type previous_key;

Node* tail;
Node* prev_updated; // Points to the most recently added or
// updated node.

public:

// We choose to add the first value in the constructor so
// that in count we do not have to make an additional check
// whether the node list is empty or not. This adds to
// efficiency.
Curvesort(value_type first_value)
:
previous_key{first_value}
{
Node* node = new Node(first_value);
node->next = nullptr;
node->prev = nullptr;

tail = node;
prev_updated = node;
}

~Curvesort()
{
Node* next;

{
}
}

void update_smaller_node(value_type key)
{
Node* tmp = prev_updated->prev;

while (tmp && tmp->key > key)
{
tmp = tmp->prev;
}

if (tmp == nullptr)
{
// 'key' is smaller than any currently stored key.
// Therefore, we update the list head node:
Node* newnode = new Node(key);
newnode->prev = nullptr;
prev_updated = newnode;
}
else if (tmp->key == key)
{
// Node exists, just increment the counter:
tmp->count++;
prev_updated = tmp;
}
else
{
// Insert a new node between 'tmp' and 'tmp.next':
Node* newnode = new Node(key);
newnode->prev = tmp;
newnode->next = tmp->next;
newnode->prev->next = newnode;
newnode->next->prev = newnode;
prev_updated = newnode;
}
}

void update_greater_node(value_type key)
{
Node* tmp = prev_updated->next;

while (tmp && tmp->key < key)
{
tmp = tmp->next;
}

if (tmp == nullptr)
{
// 'key' is larger than any currently stored key.
// Therefore, we update the list tail node:
Node* newnode = new Node(key);
newnode->prev = tail;
newnode->next = nullptr;
tail->next = newnode;
tail = newnode;
prev_updated = newnode;
}
else if (tmp->key == key)
{
// Node exists, just increment the counter:
tmp->count++;
prev_updated = tmp;
}
else
{
// Insert a new node between 'tmp.prev' and 'tmp':
Node* newnode = new Node(key);
newnode->prev = tmp->prev;
newnode->next = tmp;
tmp->prev->next = newnode;
tmp->prev = newnode;
prev_updated = newnode;
}
}

void count(Iter begin, Iter end)
{
begin++; // Omit the first value since we added to the
// node list.
while (begin != end)
{
value_type current_key = *begin;

if (current_key < previous_key)
{
update_smaller_node(current_key);
}
else if (current_key > previous_key)
{
update_greater_node(current_key);
}
else
{
prev_updated->count++;
}

previous_key = current_key;
begin++;
}
}

void build(Iter begin)
{
Iter iter = begin;

for (Node* node = head; node; node = node->next)
{
size_t count = node->count;
value_type key = node->key;

for (size_t i = 0; i != count; ++i)
{
*iter++ = key;
}
}
}
};

Curvesort curvesort(*begin);
curvesort.count(begin, end);
curvesort.build(begin);
}

template<typename Iter>
void sort_impl(Iter begin, Iter end, std::false_type)
{
// Not a sequence of primitive integral types. Fall back to
// std::sort.
std::sort(begin, end);
}

template<typename Iter>
void sort(Iter begin, Iter end)
{
using value_type =
typename std::iterator_traits<Iter>::value_type;

sort_impl(begin, end, std::is_integral<value_type>());
}
} // End of 'net::coderodde::sorting'
} // End of 'net::coderodde'
} // End of 'net'

#endif // CURVESORT_H


main.cpp:

#include "curvesort.h"
#include <algorithm>
#include <cmath>
#include <cstdint>
#include <iostream>
#include <list>
#include <vector>

using std::boolalpha;
using std::cout;
using std::endl;
using std::equal;
using std::list;
using std::vector;

class CurrentTime {
std::chrono::high_resolution_clock m_clock;

public:

uint64_t milliseconds()
{
return std::chrono::duration_cast<std::chrono::milliseconds>
(m_clock.now().time_since_epoch()).count();
}
};

static const int64_t amplitude = 5000;
static const size_t phase_length = 100 * 1000;
static const size_t length = 20 * 1000 * 1000;

template<typename Container>
void sin_populate_container(Container& cont,
const size_t length,
const int64_t amplitude,
const size_t phase_length)
{
for (size_t i = 0; i != length; ++i)
{
cont.push_back(
(int64_t) amplitude * sin(2.0 * M_PI * i / phase_length)
);
}
}

int main() {
CurrentTime ct;

//// std::vector demo ////
cout << "std::vector demo:" << endl;

vector<int64_t> vec;
sin_populate_container(vec, length, amplitude, phase_length);
vector<int64_t> vec2(vec);

uint64_t start = ct.milliseconds();
net::coderodde::sorting::sort(vec.begin(), vec.end());
uint64_t end = ct.milliseconds();

cout << "Curvesort in " << (end - start) << " milliseconds." << endl;

start = ct.milliseconds();
std::sort(vec2.begin(), vec2.end());
end = ct.milliseconds();

cout << "std::sort in " << (end - start) << " millisecond." << endl;

cout << "Algorithms agree: "
<< boolalpha
<< equal(vec.begin(), vec.end(), vec2.begin()) << endl;

//// std::list demo ////
cout << "std::list demo:" << endl;

list<int64_t> lst;
sin_populate_container(lst, length, amplitude, phase_length);
list<int64_t> lst2(lst);

start = ct.milliseconds();
net::coderodde::sorting::sort(lst.begin(), lst.end());
end = ct.milliseconds();

cout << "Curvesort in " << (end - start) << " milliseconds." << endl;

start = ct.milliseconds();
lst2.sort();
end = ct.milliseconds();

cout << "std::list.sort in " << (end - start) << " millisecond." << endl;

cout << "Algorithms agree: "
<< boolalpha
<< equal(lst.begin(), lst.end(), lst2.begin()) << endl;
}


Compiled with -O3, I get the following performance figures:

std::vector demo:
Curvesort in 122 milliseconds.
std::sort in 604 millisecond.
Algorithms agree: true
std::list demo:
Curvesort in 294 milliseconds.
std::list.sort in 5836 millisecond.
Algorithms agree: true


As always, any critique is much appreciated.

• Is it like std::map<T, std::size_t> then sorting by keys? – Incomputable Oct 1 '16 at 13:29
• @Olzhas That is a basic idea. Yet the linked-list structure along a "finger" pointing to the most recently updated node allows adaptation to the "smoothness" of the data. – coderodde Oct 1 '16 at 13:33
• Sure if the data is nearly already sorted (like a sin wave) and has lots of repeat values (like a sin wave) then it works well. But change the push back to cont.push_back(rand()); and now it is horrible. – Martin York Oct 1 '16 at 13:38
• @LokiAstari I know that it degrades awfully on random data. Maybe it might have been a good idea to fall back to std::sort whenever the number of distinct integers ($k$) exceeds a threshold depending on $n$. – coderodde Oct 1 '16 at 13:41
• @LokiAstari For random data without repeating values the algorithm needs about 1/4*n^2 comparisons, each one loading a list node, probably from random memory locations. If we say such a load takes about 100ns and you didn't change the length parameter from 20*1000*1000, then I would expect a run duration of about 100 days. For length=100*1000 it already takes 1 min for me. – user4407569 Oct 2 '16 at 14:30

1. You forgot to #include <chrono> in main.cpp.

2. There is no need for your limitation on integral types. You could just as well use the algorithm for any type with overloaded operator< and operator== or even only operator<=. You could follow the std::sort interface and make custom comparators available, too. However you would need to think about copy-constructibility and such. I think you cannot avoid limitation on copy-constructibility.

3. I don't know why you write struct Node*, Node* is just fine in C++. It might even mask some errors, because struct SomeTypo* x; will introduce SomeTypo as incomplete type, while SomeTypo* x; will give an error if SomeTypo was not declared at that point.

4. In C++11, which your code seems to be, you can easily offload memory management to std::unique_ptr in most cases. This makes the code shorter, clearer and safer, e.g. make Node::next and Curvesort::head std::unqiue_ptr<Node> and leave the rest as Node*. Then each node is owning its successor node and head owns the first node. As soon as Curvesort is destroyed, head will be destoyed, which is owning the first node and it too will be destroyed, cascading down to the last node. There might be a problem with recursion for every node here if tail recursion optimization is not possible, though. In that case you can still use a custom destructor moving through nodes iteratively.

5. You can spare a few lines of code, if you put prev{nullptr} and next{nullptr} in the constructor of Node.

6. Your code has undefined behavior if the input length is zero. You either need to check that this is not the case or change up your code a bit to work without handling the first node in a special way.

7. It is unnecessary to repeat the node creation code so often. Just make a function insert_before_node(Node** node, const value_type& value) which inserts a new node before the node pointed to by *node and updated *node to point to the new node. In fact I think this belongs into Node, rather than Curvesort, so that Node will handle its own memory.

8. I think holding the previous_key is unnecesary, as you can just get it from one indirection to prev_updated.

9. You are basically reimplementing a std::list holding pairs of value_type and std::size_t. Maybe try using the standard library directly. I tried it out (I deleted the file accidentially though) and got your algorithm down in about 15 lines or so with std::list and no performance impact on the list test case and only about 10% additional time on the vector test case (but that might be improvable).

10. If you used a tree (std::map) instead of a list to store your sorted values, then you can reduce the time to O(log(k)n). I think this should also be possible while still keeping your O(n) behavior for smooth input.

11. If you used a hash map (std::unordered_map) instead of a list to store your sorted values, then you can reduce the time to O(n+log(k)*k) by counting all elements with the same key and ordering keys with std::sort afterwards. However the complexity for smooth data would not be better than that in this case, except if many consecutive values are identical.