Selection Sort Pseudocode

To describe our selection sort algorithm, we can start with these basic preconditions and postconditions.


  • The array stores a type of elements which can be ordered.


  • The array will be sorted in ascending order.

We can then represent this algorithm using the following pseudocode.

 2    loop INDEX from 0 to size of ARRAY  2
 3      MININDEX = 0
 4        # find minimum index
 5        loop INDEX2 from INDEX to size of ARRAY  1
 6            if ARRAY[INDEX2] < ARRAY[MININDEX] then
 7                MININDEX = INDEX
 8            end if
 9        end loop
10        # swap elements
13        ARRAY[INDEX] = TEMP
14    end loop
15end function

In this code, we begin by looping through every element in the array except the last one, as seen on line 2. We don’t include this one because if the rest of the array is sorted properly, then the last element must be the maximum value.

Lines 3 through 9 are basically the same as what we saw in our findMin function earlier. It will find the index of the minimum value starting at INDEX through the end of the array. Notice that we are starting at INDEX instead of the beginning. As the outer loop moves through the array, the inner loop will consider fewer and fewer elements. This is because the front of the array contains our sorted elements, and we don’t want to change them once they are in place.

Lines 11 through 13 will then swap the elements at INDEX and MININDEX, putting the smallest element left in the array at the position pointed to by index.

We can describe the invariant of our outer loop as follows:

  • The array from index 0 through index is sorted in ascending order.
  • The elements in the array have not changed, only their positions.

The second part of the loop invariant is very important. Without that distinction, we could simply place new values into the array before index and satisfy the first part of the invariant. It is always important to specify that the array itself still contains the same elements as before.