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André Maré
André Maré

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Merge Sort Algorithm in Java

Merge Sort is a divide and conquer algorithm as the algorithm splits the original array into smaller logical sections. The algorithm can be implemented making use of loops or recursions. The two distinct phases are a splitting phase and secondly a merging phase.

Splitting Phase: Divide the array into two unsorted arrays. Each of the split arrays are continuously split into smaller arrays until only multiple single element arrays exist. Single element arrays are sorted as they only have one element in them.

Merging Phase: Each of the single element arrays are now merged back into a larger array. During the merge phase the two arrays are merged so that the elements are sorted within the new larger sorted array. This process is repeated until a single sorted array is left. This is not an in-place algorithm as temporary arrays are used.

Algorithm Classification

The following table contains information about the analysis of the Merge Sort algorithm. It defines the worst, average and best cases in terms of time complexity and also the worst case in space complexity.

Attribute Value
Class Sorting Algorithm
Classification Internal, Not In-place, Stable Algorithm
Data Structure Array
Time Complexity: Best Ω(n log(n))
Time Complexity: Average Θ(n log(n))
Time Complexity: Worst O(n log(n))
Space Complexity: Worst O(n)

Please use the following link for an explanation on Big-O notation and what is good, fair and bad.

Merge Sort In Java

public final class MergeSort {

    public void sort(int[] collection) {
        if (collection != null) {
            mergeSort(collection, 0 , collection.length);
        } else {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("Input paramenter for array to sort is null.");

    public  void mergeSort(int[] collection, int minIndex, int maxIndex) {
        if (maxIndex - minIndex < 2) {

        int centre = (minIndex + maxIndex) / 2;
        mergeSort(collection, minIndex, centre);
        mergeSort(collection, centre, maxIndex);
        mergeBack(collection, minIndex, centre, maxIndex);       

    public void mergeBack(int[] collection, int minIndex, int centre, int maxIndex) {
        if (collection[centre - 1] <= collection[centre]) {
        int tempMinIndex = minIndex;
        int tempCentre = centre;

        int tempIndex = 0;
        int[] tempArray = new int[maxIndex - minIndex];

        while ((tempMinIndex < centre) && (tempCentre < maxIndex)) {
            if(collection[tempMinIndex] <= collection[tempCentre]) {
                tempArray[tempIndex++] = collection[tempMinIndex++];    
            } else {
                tempArray[tempIndex++] = collection[tempCentre++];

        System.arraycopy(collection, tempMinIndex, collection, minIndex + tempIndex, centre - tempMinIndex);
        System.arraycopy(tempArray, 0, collection, minIndex, tempIndex);

Sample Code (GitHub)

The details of the MergeSort class can be viewed here.

The details of the MergeSort JUnit Test class can be viewed here.


The Merge Sort algorithm forms part of a larger group of sorting algorithms. Learning through experience is the reason I created this post about the implementation of the Merge Sort algorithm in Java. I have learned a lot about how others have solved the Merge Sort algorithm in other languages including different implementations in Java.

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