05. Quick Sort

Quick sort is a divide-and-conquer algorithm developed by Tony Hoare in 1959. Let's look at how Quick Sort works.

Algorithm Pseudocode

  1. Assign the last element as a pivot.
  2. Place a line to partition the array into two, starting from the far left end of the array.
  3. For each element in our array that is less than or equal to the pivot, swap it with the element to the right of the wall and move wall up one.
  4. Place pivot as the first element on the right of the partitioning wall.
  5. Split and repeat, then merge together for sorted array.

Here's a step-by-step illustration of what is going on. Try writing down the array [8, 4, 7, 2, 9, 5] and running through Quick Sort yourself.

quick sort algorithm outline


Here's a nifty animation for your better learning experience.


Quick sort is said to be similar to insertion and bubble, but more efficient in most cases. Depending on the implementation, it may or may not be a stable sort.


O(n2) at worst case, and O(n log n) on average. O(n) space for recursion stack.

Implementation in Java

Here's a sample implementation written in Java. Note that it extends the Sort.java class.

import java.util.Arrays;
public class QuickSort extends Sort {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    int[] testInt = {1,6,2,3,6,7,4,2,5};
    quickSort(testInt, 0, testInt.length-1);
  public static void quickSort(int[] input, int low, int high) {
    // Base case
    if (low >= high) {
    // Use last element as pivot
    int pivot = input[high];
    // Set our wall at the first element
    int wall = low;
     * Iterate through array - if current element is less that or equal 
     * to pivot, swap with element above wall
    for (int i = low; i < high; i++) {
      if (input[i] <= pivot) {
        swap(input, i, wall++);
    // Place pivot to right to just right of wall
    swap(input, wall, high);
    // Recursively call for each part of array
    quickSort(input, low, wall-1);
    quickSort(input, wall, high);


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