I came across this on Art of Computer Programming long time ago

Computer manufacturers of the 1960s estimated that more than 25 percent of the running time on their computers was spent on sorting, when all their customers were taken into account.

Is there any recent study about the estimated percentage that computer spend on sorting? 1960s is pretty old.

  • $\begingroup$ Computer Science may not be the right place for this question. Practitioners have probably more insight into this. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is a computer science question. If you were asking about the percentage of CPU cycles that were used playing video games, that would clearly not be computer science; I don't think sorting is any different in this respect. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 10:37
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    $\begingroup$ it sounds like applied CS to me & a reasonable question. but suspect the claim may be off. it could be that early database-like activities often amounted to sorting, which has now been replaced with database technology and anyway 25% sounds high. there is no attribution on the claim. DRs example doesnt really apply, sorting is a low level operation that is optimized via massive algorithmic study of different algorithms etc largely for reasons that its so fundamental. playing video games is an application. there are studies about how much time is spent doing [x] by databases etc... $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ Sorting is mostly a database operation these days. Databases are very very common, a database will only sort on insertions and updates (not on deletions of selects), so you're basically asking how much time do databases spend on upserts and on selects where no index is available. $\endgroup$
    – Johan
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 11:07


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