Now that you have completed your calculations, let's summarize the results. We already know that the Insertion Sort and the Selection Sort were the most space-efficient, but we have yet to determine which sort is the most time-efficient. We will see that this answer is a little more difficult to determine.

Space Efficiency |

Algorithm | # of memory cells |

Simple Sort Insertion Sort Selection Sort |
14 |

Time Efficiency |

Algorithm | # of copies | # of comparisons |

Simple Sort Insertion Sort Selection Sort |
7 45 15 |
42 |

Notice that the Simple Sort required the least amount of copies. We would expect this to be true since it does not swap numbers while sorting. Instead the numbers are copied to a new list in the computer. This is a common tradeoff between time and space. Although the Simple Sort loses space efficiency by using two lists, it gains time efficiency because less copies are required. Of course this does not mean that it is always best to use the Simple Sort to gain more speed. If we are trying to sort a list of 5 million names the Simple Sort would use too much space in the computer's memory. It would be much better to swap items within the list rather than create two lists.

For number of comparisons, the Selection Sort and Insertion Sort were nearly the same. The Simple Sort, however, required twice as many comparisons. We can see the reason for this difference by thinking about how the algorithms work. Each algorithm repeatedly searches for the smallest number and then places this number in the correct position. For the Insertion Sort and the Selection Sort, each iteration of this process reduces the unsorted section by one number. During the next search, the computer does not need to make as many comparisons to find the smallest number. The Simple Sort, however, replaces sorted numbers with a marker called MAX. Each time the computer searches for the smallest number, it must compare all seven memory cells. This approach is much less efficient.

Given the particular set of seven numbers we sorted, the Selection Sort was the most time-efficient. However, it is important to understand that this may not be true for every set of seven numbers. Consider the following example.

If we use the Insertion Sort on these numbers only 8 comparisons and 1 swap would be needed to sort them. However, if we use the Selection Sort, 21 comparisons and 1 swap would be needed. In this case, the Insertion sort is more efficient.