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Linear Search Algorithm

Linear search is a very basic and simple search algorithm. In Linear search, we search an element or value in a given array by traversing the array from the starting, till the desired element or value is found.

As we learned in the previous tutorial that the time complexity of Linear search algorithm is O(n), we will analyse the same and see why it is O(n) after implementing it.

Implementing Linear Search

Following are the steps of implementation that we will be following:

  1. Traverse the array using a for loop.
  2. In every iteration, compare the target value with the current value of the array.
    • If the values match, return the current index of the array.
    • If the values do not match, move on to the next array element.
  3. If no match is found, return -1.

To search the number 5 in the array given below, linear search will go step by step in a sequential order starting from the first element in the given array.

Linear search implementation array example

    below we have implemented a simple function 
    for linear search in C
    - values[] => array with all the values
    - target => value to be found
    - n => total number of elements in the array
int linearSearch(int values[], int target, int n)
    for(int i = 0; i < n; i++)
        if (values[i] == target) 
            return i; 
    return -1;

Some Examples with Inputs

Input: values[] = {5, 34, 65, 12, 77, 35} target = 77 Output: 4 Input: values[] = {101, 392, 1, 54, 32, 22, 90, 93} target = 200 Output: -1 (not found)

Final Thoughts

We know you like Linear search because it is so damn simple to implement, but it is not used practically because binary search is a lot faster than linear search. So let's head to the next tutorial where we will learn more about binary search.