sort's docstring should say whether it is stable


  • Type: Enhancement Enhancement
  • Status: Open Open
  • Priority: Major Major
  • Resolution: Unresolved
  • Affects Version/s: Release 1.6
  • Fix Version/s: None
  • Component/s: None
  • Patch:
  • Approval:


sort's docstring does not address whether the sort will be stable.

Stability is a useful property. It appears to be customary among programming tools to document whether their sort is stable. Java's Collections javadoc pledges a stable sort. The man-page of GNU coreutils sort in Ubuntu mentions its stability. The perldoc of Perl's sort function indicates it is a stable sort now but was not always.

Pillars of the Clojure community have commented on sort's stability:

(1) A recent book assembled by Cognitect consultants, "Clojure Cookbook", says Clojure's sort function "uses Java's built-in sort" and that "[t]he sort is also stable".

(2) In a 2011 discussion thread, "Clojure sort: is it specified to be stable for all targets?"!topic/clojure/j3aNAmEJW9A , Stuart Sierra replied that "if it's not specified in the doc string, then it's not a promise. That said, [...] I would generally expect a language built-in `sort` routine to be stable, so take that for what it's worth."

Screened by: Alex Miller



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