Question

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City contains more than 32 million specimens and artifacts in its various collections, including the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils. Many of these are in storage away from public view, but all must be carefully inventoried. a. Suppose the inventory is unordered (!) and a sequential search is done to locate a specific artifact. Given that the search is executed on a computer that can do 12,000 comparisons per second, about how much time on the average would the search require? b. Assuming the inventory is sorted, about how much time would a binary search require?

Solution

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a)      The average number of comparisons for a 32 million long list would be 16 million

Here is the calculation:

       $16,000,000   comparisons * \dfrac{1}{12,000} seconds/comparison = 1333 seconds$

the average time approximates to 22.2 hours.

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