# Randomized Selection Algorithm (Quickselect) – Python Code

Find the kth smallest element in an array without sorting.

That’s basically what this algorithm does. It piggybacks on the partition subroutine from the Quick Sort. If you don’t know what that is, you can check out more about the Quick Sort algorithm here and here, and understand the usefulness of partitioning an unsorted array around a pivot. Animated visualization of the randomized selection algorithm selecting the 22nd smallest value

Python Implementation

# Computing Work Done (Total Pivot Comparisons) by Quick Sort

A key aspect of the Quick Sort algorithm is how the pivot element is chosen. In my earlier post on the Python code for Quick Sort, my implementation takes the first element of the unsorted array as the pivot element.

However with some mathematical analysis it can be seen that such an implementation is O(n2) in complexity while if a pivot is randomly chosen, the Quick Sort algorithm is O(nlog2n).

To witness this in action, one can measure the work done by the algorithm comparing two cases, one with a randomized pivot choice – and one with a fixed pivot choice, say the first element of the array (or the last element of the array).

Implementation

A decent proxy for the amount of work done by the algorithm would be the number of pivot comparisons. These comparisons needn’t be computed one-by-one, rather when there is a recursive call on a subarray of length m, you should simply add m−1 to your running total of comparisons.

3 Cases

To put things in perspective, let’s look at 3 cases. (This is basically straight out of a homework assignment from Tim Roughgarden’s course on the Design and Analysis of Algorithms).
Case I with the pivot being the first element.
Case II with the pivot being the last element.
Case III using the “median-of-three” pivot rule. The primary motivation behind this rule is to do a little bit of extra work to get much better performance on input arrays that are nearly sorted or reverse sorted.

Median-of-Three Pivot Rule

Consider the first, middle, and final elements of the given array. (If the array has odd length it should be clear what the “middle” element is; for an array with even length 2k, use the kth element as the “middle” element. So for the array 4 5 6 7, the “middle” element is the second one —- 5 and not 6! Identify which of these three elements is the median (i.e., the one whose value is in between the other two), and use this as your pivot.

Python Code

This file contains all of the integers between 1 and 10,000 (inclusive, with no repeats) in unsorted order. The integer in the ith row of the file gives you the ith entry of an input array. I downloaded this file and named it QuickSort_List.txt

You can run the code below and see for yourself that the number of comparisons for Case III are 138,382 compared to 162,085 and 164,123 for Case I and Case II respectively. You can play around with the code in an IPython / Jupyter notebook here.

# Quick Sort Python Code Yet another post for the crawlers to better index my site for algorithms and as a repository for Python code. The quick sort algorithm is well explained in the topmost Google search result for ‘Quick Sort Python Code’, but the code is unnecessarily convoluted. Instead, go with the code below.

In it, I assume the pivot to be the first element. You can easily add a function to  randomize selection of the pivot. Choosing a random pivot minimizes the chance that you will encounter worst-case O(n2) performance. Always choosing first or last would cause worst-case performance for nearly-sorted or nearly-reverse-sorted data.

# How to become a Data Scientist in 6 months

Disclaimer: I’m not a data scientist yet. That’s still work in progress, but I’d recommend this excellent talk given by  Tetiana Ivanova to put an enthusiast’s data science journey in perspective.

# My First Data Science Hackathon

So after 8 months of playing around with R and Python and blog post after blog post, I found myself finally hacking away at a problem set from the 17th storey of the Hindustan Times building at Connaught Place. I had entered my first ever data science hackathon conducted by Analytics Vidhya, a pioneer in analytics learning in India. Pizzas and Pepsi were on the house. Like any predictive analysis hackathon, this one accepted unlimited entries till submission time. It was from 2pm to 4:30pm today –  2.5 hours, of which I ended up wasting 1.5 hours trying to make my first submission which encountered submission error after submission error until the problem was fixed finally post lunch. I had 1 hour to try my best. It wasn’t the best performance, but I thought of blogging this experience anyway, as a reminder of the work that awaits me. I want to be the one winning prize money at the end of the day.

🙂 # Solutions to Machine Learning Programming Assignments

This post contains links to a bunch of code that I have written to complete Andrew Ng’s famous machine learning course which includes several interesting machine learning problems that needed to be solved using the Octave / Matlab programming language. I’m not sure I’d ever be programming in Octave after this course, but learning Octave just so that I could complete this course seemed worth the time and effort. I would usually work on the programming assignments on Sundays and spend several hours coding in Octave, telling myself that I would later replicate the exercises in Python.

If you’ve taken this course and found some of the assignments hard to complete, I think it might not hurt to go check online on how a particular function was implemented. If you end up copying the entire code, it’s probably your loss in the long run. But then John Maynard Keynes once said, ‘In the long run we are all dead‘. Yeah, and we wonder why people call Economics the dismal science!

Most people disregard Coursera’s feeble attempt at reigning in plagiarism by creating an Honor Code, precisely because this so-called code-of-conduct can be easily circumvented. I don’t mind posting solutions to a course’s programming assignments because GitHub is full to the brim with such content. Plus, it’s always good to read others’ code even if you implemented a function correctly. It helps understand the different ways of tackling a given programming problem.

Enjoy!

# Spot the Difference — It’s NumPy!

My first brush with NumPy happened over writing a block of code to make a plot using pylab. ⇣

`pylab` is part of `matplotlib` (in `matplotlib.pylab`) and tries to give you a MatLab like environment. `matplotlib` has a number of dependencies, among them `numpy` which it imports under the common alias `np`. `scipy` is not a dependency of `matplotlib`.

I had a tuple (of lows and highs of temperature) of lengh 2 with 31 entries in each (the number of days in the month of July), parsed from this text file:

Given below, are 2 sets of code that do the same thing; one without NumPy and the other with NumPy. They output the following graph using PyLab: Code without NumPy

Code with NumPy

The difference in code lies in how the variable `diffTemps` is calculated.

```diffTemps = list(np.array(highTemps) - np.array(lowTemps))
```

```diffTemps = [highTemps[i] - lowTemps[i] for i in range(len(lowTemps))]