Raymond Hettinger is one of the core Python developers whose talks I’ve featured on my blog before. And rightfully so, as Raymond’s presentations are unarguably entertaining and deeply insightful from an technical perspective.

In this recorded talk at the 2016 Annual Holiday Party for Python Devs in San Fransisco Bay Area, Raymond walks us through the history and development of dictionaries and hash tables uses example code in Python.

Python’s dictionaries are stunningly good. Over the years, many great ideas have combined together to produce the modern implementation in Python 3.6. This fun talk is given by Raymond Hettinger, the Python core developer responsible for the set implementation and who designed the compact-and-ordered dict implemented in CPython for Python 3.6 and in PyPy for Python 2.7. He will use pictures and little bits of pure python code to explain all of the key ideas and how they evolved over time. He will also include newer features such as key-sharing, compaction, and versioning. This talk is important because it is the only public discussion of the state of the art as of Python 3.6. Even experienced Python users are unlikely to know the most recent innovations.

This talk is for all Python programmers. It is designed to be fully understandable for a beginner (it starts from first principles) but to have new information even for Python experts (how key-sharing works, how the compact-ordered patch works, how dict versioning works). At the end of this talk, you can confidently say that you know how modern Python dictionaries work and what it means for your code.

Sorting is one of the central topic in most Computer Science degrees. In general, sorting refers to the process of rearranging data according to a defined pattern with the end goal of transforming the original unsorted sequence into a sorted sequence. It lies at the heart of successful businesses ventures — such as Google and Amazon — but is also present in many applications we use daily — such as Excel or Facebook.

Many different algorithms have been developed to sort data. Wikipedia lists as many as 45 and there are probably many more. Some work by exchanging data points in a sequence, others insert and/or merge parts of the sequence. More importantly, some algorithms are quite effective in terms of the time they take to sort data — taking only time to sort datapoints — whereas others are very slow — taking as much as . Moreover, some algorithms are stable — in the sense that they always take the same amount of time to process datapoints — whereas others may fluctuate in terms of processing time based on the original order of the data.

I really enjoyed this video by TED-Ed on how to best sort your book collection. It provides a very intuitive introduction into sorting strategies (i.e., algorithms). Moreover, Algorithms to Live By (Christian & Griffiths, 2016) provided the amazing suggestion to get friends and pizza in whenever you need to sort something, next to the great explanation of various algorithms and their computational demand.

The main reason for this blog is that I stumbled across some nice video’s and GIFs of sorting algorithms in action. These visualizations are not only wonderfully intriguing to look at, but also help so much in understanding how the sorting algorithms process the data under the hood. You might want to start with the 4-minute YouTube video below, demonstrating how nine different sorting algorithms (Selection Sort, Shell Sort, Insertion Sort, Merge Sort, Quick Sort, Heap Sort, Bubble Sort, Comb Sort, & Cocktail Sort) process a variety of datasets.

This interactive website toptal.com allows you to play around with the most well-known sorting algorithms, putting them to work on different datasets. For the grande finale, I found these GIFs and short video’s of several sorting algorithms on imgur. In the visualizations below, each row of the image represents an independent list being sorted. You can see that Bubble Sort is quite slow:

Cocktail Shaker Sort already seems somewhat faster, but still takes quite a while.

For some algorithms, the visualization clearly shows that the settings you pick matter. For instance, Heap Sort is much quicker if you choose to shift down instead of up.

In contrast, for Merge Sort it doesn’t matter whether you sort by breadth first or depth first.

The imgur overview includes many more visualized sorting algorithms but I don’t want to overload WordPress or your computer, so I’ll leave you with two types of Radix Sort, the rest you can look up yourself!