Applying Sorting Networks to Synthesize Optimized Sorting Libraries

Michael Codish, Luis Cruz-Filipe, Markus Nebe and Peter Schneider-Kamp   

Logic-Based Program Synthesis and Transformation (LOPSTR), Revised Selected Papers; 2015


This paper shows an application of the theory of sorting networks to facilitate the synthesis of optimized general purpose sorting libraries. Standard sorting libraries are often based on combinations of the classic Quicksort algorithm with insertion sort applied as the base case for small fixed numbers of inputs. Unrolling the code for the base case by ignoring loop conditions eliminates branching and results in code which is equivalent to a sorting network. This enables the application of further program transformations based on sorting network optimizations, and eventually the synthesis of code from sorting networks. We show that if considering the number of comparisons and swaps then theory predicts no real advantage of this approach. However, significant speed-ups are obtained when taking advantage of instruction level parallelism and non-branching conditional assignment instructions, both of which are common in modern CPU architectures. We provide empirical evidence that using code synthesized from efficient sorting networks as the base case for Quicksort libraries results in significant real-world speed-ups.

Available:    bibtex entry

Michael Codish
The Department of Computer Science
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
PoB 653, Beer-Sheva, 84105, Israel

© copyright notice