# Julia is lightning fast: bubble sort revisited

December 26, 2013
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(This article was first published on NumberTheory » R stuff, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I had heard the name of the new technical computing language Julia buzzing around for some time already. Now during Christmas I had some time on my hands, and implemented the bubble sort algorithm that I have already posted about several times (R, C++). The main argument for Julia is it’s speed. It claims speeds comparable to that of a compiled language such as C++, but in the form of a high-level programming language such as R or Matlab.

The following Julia code implements the bubble sort algorithm, in the same style as the C++ algorithm I implemented using Rcpp.

```function swap_vector(vec_in, passes)
no_swaps = 0
for vec_index in [1:(length(vec_in) - 1 - passes)]
if vec_in[vec_index] > vec_in[vec_index + 1]
no_swaps += 1
tmp = vec_in[vec_index]
vec_in[vec_index] = vec_in[vec_index + 1]
vec_in[vec_index + 1] = tmp
end
end
return no_swaps
end

function sort_julia(vec_in)
passes = 0
while(true)
no_swaps = swap_vector(vec_in, passes)
if no_swaps == 0
break
end
passes += 1
end
return vec_in
end

n = 10000
repeat = 10

for index in [1:repeat]
unsorted_vec = rand(Int32, n)
println(@elapsed bla = sort_julia(unsorted_vec))
end```

Running this from the command line leads to the following timings in seconds:

```\$ julia sort_julia.jl
0.4039602
0.37794618
0.382728631
0.376510427
0.376038704
0.382480906
0.376912447
0.370066738
0.387273682
0.376426721```

This is in the same order of magnitude as the C++ implementation, which leads to timings of around 0.31 secs. So, this first examples shows that Julia is comparable in speed to C++ for this example, which is much much faster than the same implementation would be in R.

Julia certainly lacks the maturity of a tool such as R or Python, but the speed is impressive and I like the clean looking syntax. I’m curious to see where Julia will go from here, but I’ll certainly try and find an excuse to try Julia out for a real project.