Linear Search Algorithm: Overview, Procedure, Benefits and Examples

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Apr 18, 2022

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Linear Search:
A linear search is the easiest technique for locating an element within a data set. From the start of the data set to the finish, it evaluates each element for a match. Once the target item is identified, the search process comes to an end. If no match is found, the linear search algorithm must stop and produce an output.


An algorithm is a set of steps that solves a problem based on executing a specified sequence of actions. So a programming language is an algorithm. The term "algorithm" relates to the process of solving a problem that frequently occurs in the Data Science Course.

An algorithm is a sequence of instructions to take the inputs, A, and interpret the data involved, B. They can assist in calculating functions from data points in Data Science Training, among other more advanced tasks. Aside from programming, they are vital in data encryption. Rather than storing data in a method that consumes less storage space, it is stored in a way that is invisible to other programs.

Meaning of Searching?

The term "searching" refers to finding a specific component among a collection of items. Collections are arrays and linked lists. If the process finds the element in the list, it returns the item's location. If you don't discover the component, the search is considered unsuccessful.

Two popular search approaches are available to identify a specific element on a list. However, the algorithm used is based on how the list is organized.

  • Linear Search
  • Binary Search

What is Linear Searching?

An array element can be located using the linear search algorithm, which returns its index due to the search. We might also return a non-existent element flag. This is the simplest fundamental method of linear search in data structure.

Also, it is referred to as Sequential Search. It evaluates each element until a result is confirmed or the list is finished. The best thing is that it works with sorted and unsorted arrays.

The linear search technique is efficient in two situations:

  • When the list has smaller items.
  • In an unsorted array, look for a specific item.

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Unique Characteristics of Linear Search Algorithms:

  • It is used to represent an unsorted and unorganized collection of small components.
  • An O(n) (time complexity) implies that time is proportional to the number of items. 
  • It is easy to implement.

Linear Search Algorithms:

  • A continuous looping approach continues until the element is located.
  • Algorithm Seqnl Search (list, element)
  • Pre: list! = ;
  • Post: revert back the index of the element if found, otherwise: 1
  • Index <- fi
  • Whereas index < list.Cnt and list[index] != item /cnt: counter variable
  • Index <- index + 1
  • Finish while
  • If index < list.Cnt and list[index] = element
  • Return index
  • Finish if
  • Return: 1
  • Finish Seqnl Search

Procedure in the Linear Search Algorithm:

The following are the steps to implementing linear search:

  • Step 1: Examine the array's searching item (Target value).
  • Step 2: Comparing the search element to the array's first element.
  • Step 3: If both elements match, the message "Target element discovered" ends the Linear Search procedure.
  • Step 4: In the absence of a match, look at the next member in the array to see if the search element is there.
  • Step 5: Repeat procedures 3 and 4 above until the searching (Target) item matches the array's last thing.
  • Step 6: "Element not found" would be shown when the last component in your list does not match.


An Example of a Linear Search:

Assume a seven-element array with values 13, 9, 21, 15, 39, 19, and 27, which begins with 0 and finishes with size minus one, 6. The search element is 39C:\Users\user\Desktop\Untitled.png

Step 1: Compare the 39 items in the list to the initial element, which is 13.



If no match is detected, you proceed to the next item and continue to make a comparison.

Step 2: Now compare search item 39 to array element 9.



You will keep searching if neither matches.

Step 3: Now make a comparison search element 39 to third element 21.



If the elements don't match, you proceed on to the next.

Step 4: Next, 39 is compared to 15, the fourth element.


As they don't match, you continue to the next.

Step 5: Now, keep comparing search element 39 to fifth element 39.


A perfect match is obtained, and the Linear Search Algorithm is ended, displaying the element identified at point 4.

Then comes the complexities of the linear search algorithm.

The Benefits of Linear Search

  • It is easy to understand both conceptually and practically.
  • Unsorted and sorted arrays can be used. It doesn't matter how the elements are arranged.
  • Once the target element corresponds to the array's initial segment, the algorithm works in O (1).
  • Insertions and deletions do not affect the linear search in the data structure.

Binary Search:

A binary search is a practical approach for discovering a specific object from a sorted list of options. Binary search is often referred to as half-interval or logarithmic search. It works by continually dividing the list in half to find the object until only one viable location remains. Finding a specific element in an array is a popular application of binary search. However, it is inefficient when dealing with unsorted data.


1. What distinguishes linear search from binary search?

  • The linear search would be an algorithm for locating an item in a list by continuously searching the list's elements until the matching value is found. The binary search algorithm locates a specific value in sorted order.
  • The term "sequential search" is another way to say "linear search," whereas "half-interval search" or "logarithmic search" are both similar to binary search.
  • A linear search has a time complexity of O(N), but a binary search has a time complexity of O (log2N). As a result, this is another distinction between linear and binary searches.
  • A linear search's best option is to locate the component in the first location, whereas the best-case scenario for a binary search is to discover the element in the middle of the search area.
  • It is not necessary to arrange the array before doing a linear search. However, while performing a binary search, this is important to sort the arrays first.
  • Binary search is a more efficient method of searching than linear search.
  • Binary search is a more complete procedure than linear search.

2. What applications can linear searching have?

The linear search method is helpful for the following tasks:

  • Linear search applies to single- and multi-dimensional arrays.
  • When a collection comprises a few items, linear search is simple to implement and effective.
  • Searching for a single item in an unordered list is also an excellent usage of Linear Search.

3. Give examples of where linear search is used in real-world practice.

Take, for example, a telephone directory and open it to the first sheet of names to see how this works in the real world. We're on the search for the first "Smith." Consider the letters. Isn't that "Smith"? Probably not (it's more than likely a name that begins with the letter 'A'). Consider the following name. Isn't that "Smith"? Most likely not. Continue searching at the next entry until you come across "Smith."

The preceding is an illustration of a linear search or sequential search. Whenever you needed to find something, you had to go back and start from scratch, going through each item in order they appeared on the list until you finally located it. Of course, this is not the typical way to look for a name in the telephone directory.

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Performing efficient searches presents its very own unique set of challenges since the possibilities for using it are virtually unlimited. The linear search algorithm is the strategy for finding an element linear search in the data structure, including an array. 

In a search algorithm, the time required to find a component or the frequency of comparisons needed to locate an element includes determining the algorithm's performance. If the part we are looking for is first in the data structure, only comparison is required. Each item is verified during the data collection to see whether there is a match. If not, the search continues until all data is collected. Master Linear Search by attending a Data Science course at Staragile

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