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Merge Sort at GCSE (OCR)

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by gzkfyg, Nov 21, 2016.

  1. gzkfyg

    gzkfyg New commenter


    I'm about to teach Bubble/Merge/Insertion sort as per the OCR J276 spec. Bubble sort is relatively straight forward to explain, realise in Pseudocode and program up. Merge sort is fairly straight forward to explain, somewhat more complex to achieve in Pseudocode and even more complex to program up. It really does not feel like a GCSE programming exercise - but what is a GCSE programming exercise these days!?

    As I understand it, there is no requirement for students to be able to code up these algorithms - or is there? The algorithms section appears alongside programming in the spec - it says "Learners will be introduced to algorithms and programming" I can see the benefits of doing so: if they get it, the NEA should be straight forward.

    How are people planning to approach this part of the spec?

    Thanks, Geedle.
  2. Mr_G_ICT

    Mr_G_ICT New commenter

    its the understanding of merge sort. A-Level spec is showing understanding of merge sort and how it works, if you can explain the concept and why it is faster than a bubble, i guess that will take it up to spec.

    You can't ask GCSE kids to code a recursive merge sort. in previous years mine have struggled with Bubble sort!
    teknoteacher likes this.
  3. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    Why did they pick merge sort? Presumably because it's a bit quicker in theory.

    I'd have stuck with ones that are normally done "in-place" - bubble sort, selection sort, insertion sort, possibly quicksort (the ones I show here, in fact!) - as they're easier to program.

    They all have similar time complexity, but presumably you don't need to look at Big O for GCSE - and there can be quite a bit of variation between algorithms with the same time complexity (e.g. bubble sort and quicksort).

    In the draft version of the KS3 National Curriculum there was a requirement to know about named algorithms, but they dropped it.
    Mr_G_ICT likes this.
  4. Mr_G_ICT

    Mr_G_ICT New commenter

    think it's the idea of looking at a divide and conquer alogrithm, but i'd still prefer a binary sort!
  5. Compucademy

    Compucademy New commenter

    I've not heard of a binary sort. I often emphasize the importance of making a clear distinction between sorting algorithms and searching algorithms. The searches are usually linear and binary, and the sorts are things like bubble sort, insertion sort, merge sort etc. To use binary search, we need to first apply a sorting algorithm.
  6. dalersmith

    dalersmith Occasional commenter

    I had tolook it up in Donald Knuth's Art of Computer Programming Vol 3. There is a Binary Quick Sort known as Radix exchange, but I am not sure if we would really want to get in to that. JJL rightly says that named algorithms are not given for KS3 it just says sorting and searching, only at GCSE do we see the named algorithms. My personal opinion is teach linear and binary search, then bubble and insertion in ks3.

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