Unit plan: Sorting networks

What's it all about?

See teaching this in action

A demonstration of sorting networks being taught is available here:

Some other videos showing different situations using Sorting Networks:

As we use computers more and more, and the amount of data we use increases, we want them to process information as quickly as possible. One way to increase the speed of a computer is to write programs that use fewer computational steps (as shown in the lessons on sorting and searching algorithms). Another way to solve problems faster is to have several computers work on different parts of the same task at the same time, which is what this unit explores. Unfortunately it's not always that simple to just split the work among separate processors!

An image showing a group of people working on their computers working, compared to one person at their computer.

Sorting Networks are used to sort values into ascending order by comparing pairs of values; unlike a conventional sorting algorithm, a Sorting Network can have ...

Read the full unit plan description

Lessons

Ages 5 to 7 Programming challenges
In the teacher observations sections there may also be background notes on the big picture. There is no expectation that 5 to 7 year olds will need to know this, but if you are asked, you have the answer at your fingertips.
1 Reinforcing numeracy through a Sorting Network No
2 Investigating variations using the Sorting Network No
Ages 8 to 10 Programming challenges
1 Reinforcing numeracy through a Sorting Network No
2 Investigating variations using the Sorting Network No
Ages 11 to 14 Programming challenges
1 Reinforcing numeracy through a Sorting Network No
2 Investigating variations using the Sorting Network No