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Linear search

In computer science, linear search is a search algorithm, also known as sequential search, that is suitable for searching a set of data for a particular value.

It operates by checking every element of a list until a match is found. Linear search runs in O(N). If the data are distributed randomly, on average N/2 comparisons will be needed. The best case is that the value is equal to the first element tested, in which case only 1 comparison is needed. The worst case is that the value is not in the list, in which case N comparisons are needed.

Here is a sample implementation in Ruby:

```def linear_search(array, value)
for element in array
return true if element == value
end
return false
end
```

Here is a sample implementation in PHP:

```function linear_search(\$array, \$value)
{
foreach (\$array as \$current) {
if (\$current == \$value) {
return TRUE;
}
}
return FALSE;
}
```

Here is another example in Java:

```public static boolean linear_search(Comparable array, Comparable value) {
for(Comparable c : array) {
if(c.compareTo(value) == 0)
return true;
}

return false;
}
```

And here is a sample implementation in C++ using templates and STL containers:

```template <class C, typename T>
bool linear_search(const C& array, const T& value) {
C::const_iterator iter = array.begin();
C::const_iterator end = array.end();
while (iter != end) {
if (*iter == value)
return true;
++iter;
}
return false;
}
```

Linear search can be used to search an unordered list. The more efficient binary search can only be used to search an ordered list.

If more than a small number of searches are needed, it is advisable to use a more efficient data structure. One approach is to sort and then use binary searches. Another common one is to build up a hash table and then do hash lookups.

03-10-2013 05:06:04
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