Tech Theory

15 Sorting Algorithms in 6 Minutes


Ok, this is weirdly cool.

According to the website, the creator calls this “Audibilization and Visualization of Sorting Algorithms”, or, “The Sound of Sorting”. It takes us visually and audibly through various methods of sorting digital data, with the algorithms used noted up in the upper left-hand corner.

If you’re like me, the kind of dolt who is aware of such brainy things – but really just likes watching their computer defrag (finding it strangely hypnotic) this video is just fun to watch.

If you are a programmer, coder or computer sciencey kinda gal or guy, this might be of value helping visualize concepts. Feel free to keep that to yourselves. (Ha! I kid! Not really..)

Either way, you gotta dig the 80’s~esque “Origin of early computer generated music” style presentation.

For more info and all the technical mumbo-jumbo behind it, go to the source at

(Hat-tip to friend of AT Michael Cajote)


  • jeepjeff

    This was awesome. I like that they included bogosort. I sort of wish they'd had it finish. You could arrange that by taking your permuter, run it with a known seed+RNG combo and have it output the permutations it makes. Run that for as many rounds as you want to have the video play. Then write a second script that takes the output of the permuter's logs, and run them backwards against the sorted array. Then, when you run bogosort on that carefully shuffled string with that seed, permuter and RNG, you know it will converge!

    Either that or just implement Quantum Bogosort.

  • Wouldn't it have been quicker and easier just to start with everything in the correct order in the first place?

    • The Professor

      Such insight… that's why you're the Doc.

      • Thanks! I pride myself on my perspicacity.

        Also on my thesaurus.

    • This makes me giggle.

      Coming from you makes it even funnier.

  • skitter

    I want to know what the algorithm is.
    I want to understand the algorithm.
    I heard this piece on NPR.
    At the end of a long day, it seemed like the most insane thing I'd ever heard.
    A Day In The Life Of A Target Market Female
    McSweeney's. That explains it.
    Algorithm, you do not understand me.

  • Felis_Concolor

    I once sorted myself out of a job.

    While working as temporary help at a downtown bank, I was put in with a half dozen older ladies whose sole job it was to sort payroll checks prior to returning them to their respective accounts. There were ~20 boxes for us to sort, with approximately 2,000 randomly distributed checks in each one. We slowly began the laborious process of picking up a check, comparing it to our slowly growing stacks, and placing them in order; a human version of the bog slow bubble sort.

    As I had recently programmed a merge sort routine in Turbo Pascal 4.0 (back when Borland Software was the coolest software company out there), I decided it would be relatively easy to translate those routines into a large scale combination of merge and bubble sort.

    Grabbing a set of 20 checks, I placed them in ascending sequence in short order. After repeating this process 2 more times, I then took the 3 stacks and, placing them in front of me, quickly flipped the lowest visible number down into the sorted stack, placing the 60 sorted checks aside once I was finished with them. I repeated this method and, once I had another 3 stacks of 60, would fold those into a rapidly growing pile of fully sorted checks. In under 2 hours, I had sorted my 1st box and was reaching for a 2nd when the ladies asked me how I had performed that task as quickly as I had done.

    I demonstrated the technique, and soon a small squad of sorters made short work of the boxes of checks, with Post-It squares indicating the start and end points of complete in-order check ranges. With the final sort completed, we sat around and chatted until a manager showed up and wondered why we weren't sorting checks. We pointed to the sorted boxes, and the manager said he thought that was going to take us until Friday to complete. As it was Wednesday, the girls were given the rest of the day off and I was no longer needed to cover for the former labor shortage.

    Fortunately for me, I was found another job at the bank down in the print room, where I ended up humping around big boxes of fan fold paper to feed the line printers and spent the rest of my summer work days reading SF and listening to the rapid whine of the printers.

    • Vairship

      Work smarter, not harder until you're unemployed!

  • Recurveman

    I just watched all 5:50 of it… I didn't want to, but I just could't turn away. Very cool

    • I've watched it eight times. I'm about to watch it again.

      If nothing else, I want to see when one of them finally makes a mistake.