# Non-Recursive Merge Sort

Non-recursive merge sort works by considering window sizes of 1,2,4,8,16..2^n over the input array. For each window ('k' in code below), all adjacent pairs of windows are merged into a temporary space, then put back into the array.

Here is my single function, C-based, non-recursive merge sort. Input and output are in 'a'. Temporary storage in 'b'. One day, I'd like to have a version that was in-place:

float a,b;
void mergesort (long num)
{
int rght, wid, rend;
int i,j,m,t;

for (int k=1; k < num; k *= 2 ) {
for (int left=0; left+k < num; left += k*2 ) {
rght = left + k;
rend = rght + k;
if (rend > num) rend = num;
m = left; i = left; j = rght;
while (i < rght && j < rend) {
if (a[i] <= a[j]) {
b[m] = a[i]; i++;
} else {
b[m] = a[j]; j++;
}
m++;
}
while (i < rght) {
b[m]=a[i];
i++; m++;
}
while (j < rend) {
b[m]=a[j];
j++; m++;
}
for (m=left; m < rend; m++) {
a[m] = b[m];
}
}
}
}


By the way, it is also very easy to prove this is O(n log n). The outer loop over window size grows as power of two, so k has log n iterations. While there are many windows covered by inner loop, together, all windows for a given k exactly cover the input array, so inner loop is O(n). Combining inner and outer loops: O(n)*O(log n) = O(n log n).

Loop through the elements and make every adjacent group of two sorted by swapping the two when necessary.

Now, dealing with groups of two groups (any two, most likely adjacent groups, but you could use the first and last groups) merge them into one group be selecting the lowest valued element from each group repeatedly until all 4 elements are merged into a group of 4. Now, you have nothing but groups of 4 plus a possible remainder. Using a loop around the previous logic, do it all again except this time work in groups of 4. This loop runs until there is only one group.

Quoting from Algorithmist:

Bottom-up merge sort is a non-recursive variant of the merge sort, in which the array is sorted by a sequence of passes. During each pass, the array is divided into blocks of size m. (Initially, m = 1). Every two adjacent blocks are merged (as in normal merge sort), and the next pass is made with a twice larger value of m.