# Grab your array neighbor and sort!April 13, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Like something out of Neal Stephenson's Anathem: Sorting Algorithms as Folk Dances
posted by odinsdream (22 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

That's not what sorting algorithms sound like.
posted by tylermoody at 8:34 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anathem was exactly my thought when I saw these earlier today!

Except now thinking about it a bit more, I'm not sure that's true. In Anathem, the computations are all "inside" the dance. At least, I assume so. The numbers are encoded in positions and so forth, so they are manipulable by the algorithm. Here the numbers are written on the dancers and can't be accessed by the dance.

The dance illustrates the sort but doesn't perform the sort.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

That didn't clear things up at all! I'm not sure if my confusion comes from my poor grasp of sorting algorithms or my poor grasp of folk dancing.
posted by CaptApollo at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think that this should be a challenge in the next Miss America/Miss Universe/Miss whatever pageant.
posted by Kabanos at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Let me be the first to say that th length of the YouTube videos in no way represents the efficiency of the search. SelectSort at a 7:07 as n^2 and InsertSort at:4:04 also as an n^2 make me an unhappy camper. The ShellSort at 4:31 is a pretty high bar to set for nlog^2n. I dread the dizzying pace of a BinaryTreeSort!

If you take the time to choreograph the search order, choreograph the speed too!
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:12 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by Wolfdog at 9:17 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anathem. Good glory it took me a long time to plow through that fucker. Well worth it, though. This is fascinating.
posted by secondtolastresort at 9:20 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Several times in my life, I've thought, "that's the nerdiest thing I'll ever see. I can die now".

I'm glad I hung around this long.
posted by gurple at 9:24 AM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

For all of those people who didn't read Anathem: The protagonist in the story belonged to a monastery type group that, amongst other things, solved complex mathematical problems by getting in groups and chanting Georgian-type chants about them.
posted by sideshow at 9:43 AM on April 13, 2011

... solved complex mathematical problems by getting in groups and chanting ...

I don't know, did they? I read Anathem and enjoyed most of it (until the usual Stephenson ending-a-book catastrophe), and to me it seemed more like they were demonstrating proofs through the chants, rather than actually solving new problems.
posted by gurple at 9:54 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I must've slept through that part of the book.
posted by odinsdream at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think these Hasidic Jews could handle a cocktail sort.
posted by Kabanos at 10:14 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bozo sort.
posted by idiopath at 10:18 AM on April 13, 2011

Seems a pity to stop at the bubble sort. Needs more sorts.
posted by warbaby at 10:42 AM on April 13, 2011

They did heap sort too, but things got messy.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:57 AM on April 13, 2011

SelectSort at a 7:07 as n^2 and InsertSort at:4:04 also as an n^2 make me an unhappy camper.

You are going to be even more sad when you examine the graphs of y=x vs y=x2 in the range of 0-1. GOD HIMSELF is against you!
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on April 13, 2011

it seemed more like they were demonstrating proofs through the chants, rather than actually solving new problems.

They were chanting to demonstrate recent results that they had derived back home, also by chanting.
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on April 13, 2011

This has me fucking stoked and now I think I need to read Anathem.

I guess I'm a bigger dance nerd than SF nerd. But this comes as a shock to me, too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:17 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've always suspected Monty Python's Fish-Slapping Dance is actually a demonstration of string theory.
posted by Mchelly at 12:36 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I canâ€™t believe I just wasted O(n) time watching that
posted by DreamerFi at 12:48 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

now I think I need to read Anathem.

1) Yes, you do.
2) But don't get your hopes about the dancing part. It isn't big or detailed.
posted by DU at 1:30 PM on April 13, 2011

Why do they keep calling for Heinrich Heirovny?
posted by Twang at 5:10 PM on April 13, 2011