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A binary search algorithm is used to find the position of a specific value contained in a sorted array. Working with the principle of divide and conquer, this search algorithm can be quite fast, but the caveat is that the data has to be in a sorted form. It works by starting the search in the middle of the array and working going down the first lower or upper half of the sequence. If the median value is lower than the target value, that means that the search needs to go higher, if not, then it needs to look on the descending portion of the array.
A binary search is also known as a half-interval search or logarithmic search.
A binary search is a quick and efficient method of finding a specific target value from a set of ordered items. By starting in the middle of the sorted list, it can effectively cut the search space in half by determining whether to ascend or descend the list based on the median value compared to the target value.
For example, with a target value of 8 and a search space of 1 through 11:
Using binary search, the target only had to be compared to three values. Compared to doing a linear search, it would have started from the very first value and moved up, needing to compare the target to eight values. A binary search is only possible with an ordered set of data; if the data is randomly arranged, then a linear search would yield results all the time while a binary search would probably be stuck in an infinite loop.