transpose sequential search


Definition: Search an array or list by checking items one at a time. If the value is found, swap it with its predecessor so it is found faster next time.

Also known as self-organizing sequential search.

Generalization (I am a kind of ...)
linear search, Self-organising_heuristic [Wikipedia].

See also move-to-front heuristic, self-organizing list.

Note: This moves more frequently searched items to the front. If a few items are sought much more often than the rest, this can save time. A binary search or hash table is almost always faster, though.

Author: PEB


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Entry modified 23 December 2011.
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Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "transpose sequential search", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Paul E. Black, ed., U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. 23 December 2011. (accessed TODAY) Available from:

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