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Kirill Vasiltsov
Kirill Vasiltsov

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Sorting algorithms in Rust

Epistemic status: Still learning

While reading "De-Coding The Technical Interview Process" by Emma Bostian (@emmabostian) which has great examples of sorting algorithms in Javascript, I wondered whether there are any good examples in Rust out there.

I couldn't find an article which has more than one algorithm, so I took each example, tweaked it a little bit and put together in one collection. The implementations are pretty different from Javascript versions in the book. I will add explanations to this post later.

Here are Quick sort, Bubble sort and Merge sort implemented in Rust.

Bubble sort

This is the easiest one. Here is a nice visualization:

fn sort(array: &mut Vec<i32>) {
  for i in 0..array.len() {
    for j in 0..array.len() - i - 1 {
      if array[j + 1] < array[j] {
        // let tmp = array[j];
        // array[j] = array[j + 1];
        // array[j + 1] = tmp;
        array.swap(j, j + 1);
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Merge sort

This one is best done with two functions: sort and merge.

fn sort(array: &mut [i32]) {
  let middle = array.len() / 2;
  if array.len() < 2 {
    return; // No need to sort vectors with one element

  let mut sorted = array.to_vec();

  sort(&mut array[..middle]);
  sort(&mut array[middle..]);

  merge(&array[..middle], &array[middle..], &mut sorted);

  array.copy_from_slice(&sorted); // Copy the sorted result into original vector

fn merge(l_arr: &[i32], r_arr: &[i32], sorted: &mut [i32]) {
  // Current loop position in left half, right half, and sorted vector
  let (mut left, mut right, mut i) = (0, 0, 0);

  while left < l_arr.len() && right < r_arr.len() {
    if l_arr[left] <= r_arr[right] {
      sorted[i] = l_arr[left];
      i += 1;
      left += 1;
    } else {
      sorted[i] = r_arr[right];
      i += 1;
      right += 1;

  if left < l_arr.len() {
    // If there is anything left in the left half append it after sorted members

  if right < r_arr.len() {
    // If there is anything left in the right half append it after sorted members
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Quick sort

This one is the trickiest, since partitioning is done in-place. Also, since there is no way to set default parameter values in Rust, we need a third, "entry" function, so that we don't have to explicitly specify that we need to sort the whole array from 0 to last index.

fn sort(array: &mut [i32]) {
  let start = 0;
  let end = array.len() - 1;
  quick_sort_partition(array, start, end as isize);

fn quick_sort_partition(array: &mut [i32], start: isize, end: isize) {
  if start < end && end - start >= 1 {
    let pivot = partition(array, start as isize, end as isize);
    quick_sort_partition(array, start, pivot - 1);
    quick_sort_partition(array, pivot + 1, end);

fn partition(array: &mut [i32], l: isize, h: isize) -> isize {
  let pivot = array[h as usize];
  let mut i = l - 1; // Index of the smaller element

  for j in l..h {
    if array[j as usize] <= pivot {
      i = i + 1;
      array.swap(i as usize, j as usize);

  array.swap((i + 1) as usize, h as usize);

  i + 1
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You can also find them on Github:

Ideally, you should use the built-in vec::sort method, unless you have a reason to not use it. I also would not think that these are the most performant versions of these algorithms. But I hope they do illustrate the logic behind these algorithms.

Top comments (2)

jhenninger profile image
Johannes Henninger

You don't need a third function for quicksort since you can just pass subslices to the functions. You were already doing that for mergesort. None of the quicksort functions need to take any parameters except a mutable slice.

thebinarymutant profile image
Smit Patel

Nice read. Thanks 😊