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Feb 18th, 2007 05:15
Articles Directory, Suvojeet Pal, http://americanahost.com

```A radix sort is an algorithm, a procedure, which can rearrange integer
representations based on the processing of individual digits in such a
way that the integer representations are eventually in either
ascending or descending order. Integer representations can be used to
represent things such as strings of characters (names of people,
places, things, the words and characters that you are reading now,
dates, etc.) and specially formatted floating point numbers as well as
integers. So, anything which can be represented as an ordered sequence
of integer representations can be rearranged to be in order by a radix
sort. Most digital computers internally represent all of their data as
electronic representations of binary numbers, so processing the digits
of integer representations by groups of binary digit representations
is most convenient. Two classifications of radix sorts are least
significant digit (LSD) radix sorts and most significant digit (MSD)
starting from the least significant digit and move the processing
towards the most significant digit. MSD radix sorts process the
integer representations starting from the most significant digit and
move the processing towards the least significant digit. The integer
representations that are processed by sorting algorithms are often
called, "keys," which can exist all by themselves or be associated
with other data. LSD radix sorts typically use the following sorting
order: short keys come before longer keys, and keys of the same length
are sorted lexicographically. This coincides with the normal order of
integer representations, such as the sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 10. MSD radix sorts use lexicographic order, which is suitable for
sorting strings, such as words, or fixed-length integer
representations. A sequence such as b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, ba
would be lexicographically sorted as b, ba, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j. If
lexicographic ordering is used to sort variable-length integer
representations, then the representations of the numbers from 1 to 10
would be output as 1, 10, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, as if the shorter
keys were left-justified and padded on the right with blank characters
to make the shorter keys as long as the longest key for the purpose of
determining sorted order.