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In Sec. 12.3.2, we will show that the running time of any algorithm that

sorts an array with n entries using element comparisons must be Ω(nlogn)

in the worst case (see Sec. 1.12). This means that we cannot hope for an

algorithm that runs in time that is asymptotically less than nlogn in the

worst case. For this reason, it is commonplace to call any algorithm that

sorts using element comparisons in time O(nlogn) an optimal algorithm

for the problem of comparison-based sorting. By this deﬁnition, it follows

that Algorithm bottomupsort is optimal. In this case, we also say that

it is optimal within a multiplicative constant to indicate the possibility of

the existence of another sorting algorithm whose running time is a constant

fraction of that of bottomupsort. In general, if we can prove that any

algorithm to solve problem Π must be Ω(f(n)), then we call any algorithm

to solve problem Π in time O(f(n)) an optimal algorithm for problem Π.

Incidentally, this deﬁnition, which is widely used in the literature, does

not take into account the space complexity. The reason is twofold. First,

as we indicated before, time is considered to be more precious than space

so long as the space used is within reasonable limits. Second, most of

the existing optimal algorithms compare to each other in terms of space

complexity in the order of O(n). For example, Algorithm bottomupsort,

which needs Θ(n) of space as auxiliary storage, is called optimal, although

there are other algorithms that sort in O(nlogn) time and O(1) space. For

example, Algorithm heapsort, which will be introduced in Sec. 4.2.3, runs

in time O(nlogn) using only O(1) amount of space.

How to Estimate the Running Time of an Algorithm

35

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