Sort is jargon

One of the amusing things that happens when you teach introductory level classes is you get to see things from a different perspective, and that can sometimes be quite surprising.

Last Spring, I discovered that sort, as in “a sorted list of numbers” is CS jargon.

Ask a normal, non-programming person.  Look it up in the dictionary.  “Sorted” to any normal english speaker means “grouped together.”  As in “these Skittles are sorted by color.”  Or “sorting the laundry.”  You’ve probably never heard an elementary school teacher say “sort these alphabetically” it’s “put these in alphabetical order.”

I was momentarily stunned in the middle of lecture by someone asking what I meant by sort when I realized it was not at all a dumb question.

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