EDIT: code snippet added, check the output in JS console

I wrote the following binary search algorithm in JS, for the first time in my experience. The variable sampleObj is a random object array in the form of: [{index: 5, sample: 3}, {index: 8, sample: 1}, ...], the final console.log(sampleObj) should log target value and index in an object if found, 'not found' if not found

My idea is:

  1. sort the sample object array from small to large value, along with the index of each value,
  2. find the middle value of the array, if it equals to target, return the object; if it's larger, assign the first half of the object array to sampleObj, otherwise assign the second half,
  3. repeat until found or not found.

The code consists of 3 main parts:

  1. generate sample object array,
  2. define binary search method,
  3. conduct a binary search.

Here is the code, it passed all my test cases, but what can I improve?

// sample size
const N = 20;
const sample = Array.from({length: N}, () => Math.floor(Math.random() * N));
// define target value
const target = 0;

const indices = [...Array(N).keys()];
const sampleWithIndices = [sample, indices];
let sampleObj;
console.log(`target is ${target}`);
// 1. generate sample object array
const generateObj = (origin) => {
    let output = [];
    for(let i = 0; i < origin.length; i++) {
    let index = [...Array(N).keys()];
    output[i] = {
        'sample': origin[i],
      'index': index[i]
  return output;
sampleObj = generateObj(sample);

// sort sample object by sample array
const sortSampleObj = (input) => {
    return input.sort((a, b) => {
    return a.sample - b.sample
sampleObj = sortSampleObj(sampleObj);

// 2. define binary search method
const binarySearch = (inputObj, inputMidIndex, inputMidSampleValue, inputTarget) => {
    if(inputMidSampleValue === inputTarget) {
    inputObj = [inputObj[inputMidIndex]];
  else if(inputMidSampleValue > inputTarget) {
    inputObj = inputObj.slice(0, inputMidIndex);
  else {
    inputObj = inputObj.slice(inputMidIndex);
  return inputObj;

// 3. conduct binary search
let midIndex, midSampleValue, maxIterations;

maxIterations = Math.round(sampleObj.length / 2);

for(let i = 0; i < maxIterations; i++) {
    midIndex = Math.round(sampleObj.length / 2) - 1;
    midSampleValue = sampleObj[midIndex].sample;
    sampleObj = binarySearch(sampleObj, midIndex, midSampleValue, target);
  if (sampleObj.length === 1) {
    sampleObj = sampleObj[0].sample === target ? sampleObj : 'not found';


  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @user122973 - the obvious problem is there's a lot of "assumptions" in the code. e.g. something named sampleObj is used as an array... not sure many people would think that .. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mr R
    Jun 8, 2021 at 2:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you please edit your post and provide a working sample of your code in a code snippet (ctrl + m)? Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 8, 2021 at 9:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @kemicofaghost sorry I should have thought that, snippet added \$\endgroup\$ Jun 8, 2021 at 9:27

1 Answer 1



The general impression at first look is that the code is rather messy with poor formatting, poorly organised and a lot of noisy, redundant and/or long winded code.

When testing the code I found bugs. The general rule at Code Review is that code should work to the best of your knowledge. However I do not think you knew that it could fail.

Thorough testing would have found the bug. Always test your code


There are bugs. The fact that you use the value maxIterations to terminate the loop shows you were somewhat aware of a problem.

Main bug

For input array of 20 items, items at sorted index of 3, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15, 19 are not found because the function binarySearch does not correctly split the array into smaller parts.

Minor problems

Further and minor problems are the inconsistent result, both undefined and "not found" have the same meaning (no result).

The found item is added to an array while "not found" string and undefined are not in an array.

This make working with the result difficult.

Personally undefined is preferred over a string as a failed result, and the result (as there can be only one) should be a reference rather than an array containing a reference. (see rewrite)


Your complexity \$O(n)\$ is way above what a binary search should be \$O(log(n))\$

Binary search is fast because at most it need only test \$O(log(n))\$ items to find a match or know there is no match. Eg for 32 items you test only 5 items

However you copy parts of the array each time you step the search (half the items of the previous half).

Making a copy means you need to step over each item copied (hidden iteration by JS engine when you call Array.slice). Thus the worst case is \$O(n)\$ which is the same as a linear search. Example An array of 32 will require the copying of 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1 items (31) in the worst case

The rewrite uses a bounds to calculate the next index to test. It does not copy any part of the array.

General Points

Code noise

Code noise is anything that is

  • Code not required or is excessively complex (source code complexity)
  • Code that can be written in a standard shorter form
  • Repeated code

Shorter form

  • Property names

    There is no need to wrap object property names in quotes. Eg You have output[i] = {'sample': origin[i], 'index': index[i]} can be output[i] = {sample: origin[i], index: index[i]}

  • Implied return

    Arrow function can have an implied return. For example the sort function can be input.sort((a, b) => a.sample - b.sample); (same as input.sort((a, b) => { return a.sample - b.sample); }) the return is implied if you do not include {} around the functions code block.

Not required

  • Excessive complexity

    • In generateObj you create an array of indexes [...Array(N).keys()] then index that array to get an index index: index[i]. I am not sure why you do this as you have the index already as i

      • There is no need to loop till maxIterations, you can use a while loop to exit when the array size is 1. (I understand you used it to avoid the bugs)

      • It is best to calculate values as close to the point you need them.

        The variables midIndex and midSampleValue are created outside the function that uses them binarySearch. These values are not used outside that function.

        As that function has all the data required to calculate theses values it is far simpler to calculate them in that function rather than outside and needing to pass them as arguments.

  • Redundant assign

    Array.sort sorts the array in place. There is no need to reassign it. sampleObj = sortSampleObj(sampleObj); is the same as sortSampleObj(sampleObj);


Some style points.

  • Use const for constants.

  • Take care to correctly indent code.

  • Always create functions rather than use inline code. In the rewrite the search is a function. This makes the code portable, gives semantic meaning to the code, allows for a cleaner exit.


The rewrite fixes bugs and has the correct complexity \$O(log(n))\$ for a binary search.


  • The rewrite function binarySearch does the search

  • The search function takes an additional argument propName that defines the name of the property that the search is looking for. It defaults to "sample"

  • The function returns the item found or undefined

  • There is a usage example at the bottom.

There are many ways to implement a binary search. The rewrite creates a bounds top and bottom The mid point idx is halfway between top and bottom and is the item to test. If the tested point is greater then top is set to the mid point idx else bottom is set to mid point idx.

I use binary operator right shift >> (Right shift) to half values as it does a divide and floor in one step. Eg val >> 1 is the same as Math.floor(val / 2)

function binarySearch(data, targetValue, propName = "sample") {
    var top = data.length - 1, bottom = 0, idx = top >> 1; 
    while (top >= bottom){
        const item = data[idx], val = item[propName]; 
        if (val === targetValue) { return item }
        val < targetValue ? bottom = idx + 1 : top = idx - 1;
        idx = (bottom + top) >> 1;
const data = [{sample: 1, idx 0}, {sample: 10, idx 1}, {sample: 20, idx 2}];
console.log(binarySearch(data, 10)?.idx ?? "Not found")

  • \$\begingroup\$ As a discussion, when you mentioned in main bug: For input array of 20 items, items at sorted index of 3, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15, 19 are not found, I tried searching 0 in [9, 13, 17, 11, 8, 0, 1, 1, 13, 15, 10, 10, 19, 11, 9, 1, 14, 15, 5, 4] and the algorithm returned {index: 5, sample 0}, so I suppose item at the sorted index of 5 could be found? Also for [4, 18, 19, 9, 15, 19, 17, 5, 7, 1, 11, 16, 2, 12, 10, 0, 2, 16, 7, 18], 0 could be found at index 15. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 8, 2021 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user122973 In both examples you provide 0 would be at sorted index 0 (the index of the item when sorted does not match the item.index value) \$\endgroup\$
    – Blindman67
    Jun 8, 2021 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain the last line of syntax binarySearch(data, 10)?.idx ?? "Not found", especially ?.idx ?? 'not found'. What is the .idx after the ternary operator, and why does ?? return 'not found'? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 9, 2021 at 19:58

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