Binary Search in Python — Is it Faster?

Binary Search in Python — Is it Faster?

Binary Search in Python — Is it Faster? Not only is the average time an order of magnitude faster than the already fast binary search Python implementation, but the speed is also sustained across all elements regardless of where they are.

It’s that time of the week! You decide to dive deeper into a subject and today we are looking at Binary Search.

As always, there are many ways to solve the same problem. When you want to check if an element is in a list, you can do this with a linear search as well as a binary search, but guess which is faster.

Why?

If you have watched programming job interviews on Youtube lately, you know that binary search is a favorite.

Why should you spend time learning about binary search? Your C++ programming friends probably told you this already. Python is slow. You want to make sure you don’t make your program slower than it needs to be.

When you learn Python, you learn to do a linear search to check if an element is in a list. That’s fine when you learn to code, but what happens when you have 60.000.000 elements in a list?

If you do a linear search in a list with 11 elements you have to go through all 11 elements. If you use binary search you might end up with as few as 2 iterations depending on what you’re looking for. See the graphics below.

It should be obvious which approach is faster.

You have most likely worked with lists a hundred times already when you started learning Python. Checking if a value is in the list is a normal task and you have seen this before:

my_list = [1,2,3,3,5,11,12]

if 11 in my_list:
    return True
return False

Or this:

my_list = [1,2,3,3,5,11,12]

for each in list:
    if each==11:
        return True
return False

Let’s start looking at how you can implement binary search.

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