# Strictly speaking do the Hoare and Lomuto partitioning algorithms work on the same algorithm: quicksort?

For Hoare's partitioning algorithm quicksort is implemented as such

 quickSort(array, first, last)
if(last > first)
pivot = partition(array, first, last);
quickSort(array, first, pivot);
quickSort(array, pivot+1, last);


but Lomuto is

 quickSort(array, first, last)
if(last > first)
pivot = partition(array, first, last);
quickSort(array, first, pivot-1);
quickSort(array, pivot+1, last);


Notice the first one doesn't have pivot-1. Is it correct to call these two the same implementations of the quicksort algorithm? I'm having trouble rapping my head around the difference, I thought quicksort worked on the premise that after one call to it the pivot is in it's final place (so do +1 and -1 for the rest of the array) but Hoare's method doesn't seem to work like this.

The term "Quicksort" stands for this abstract algorithmic idea:

1. Pick a value $x$.
2. Partition the input into $\{y\mid y \leq x\}$ and $\{y \mid y > x\}$.
3. Recurse on the partitions (if they are non-trivial) and append the results.

You may want to generalise to multiple pivots, or create a third partition for elements equal the pivot, but mostly that's it.

There are many, many implementations. All of them are called "Quicksort", but many modify the name. See here for a discussion about the differences of these particular two variants.

• Is it correct to call something like quicksort an algorithm? If an algorithm is a detailed step by step set of instructions, there is so much variability in quicksort depending on the partitioning method used and the pivot selection method.
– user20767
Aug 11, 2014 at 21:40
• @Celeritas Well, all variants output the exact same thing, don't they? So, arguably, the description is precise enough -- to describe the algorithm, not its execution "on the metal". Also, there is no general consensus on the necessary level of detail; from what you'll find in mathematics lectures over CS-style pseudocode used in analysis all the way to "real" code or even machine code, every form has its use. See here for an example.
– Raphael
Aug 11, 2014 at 22:17
• Disclaimer: different variants may output different things if we sort complex data with duplicate sorting keys; in particular, Quicksort is (usually) not stable. My earlier comment had pairwise distinct sorting keys resp. indistinguishable duplicate elements in mind.
– Raphael
Aug 12, 2014 at 5:51
• Just because two programs output the same thing certainly does not mean they use the same algorithm. I guess what you're saying is the definition of algorithm is itself not strictly defined?
– user20767
Aug 12, 2014 at 8:51
• You might prefer to call quicksort a family of algorithms but fussing over exactly what words to use isn't very productive. Aug 12, 2014 at 9:02