Sort Operations

RAJA provides portable parallel sort operations, which are described in this section.

A few important notes:


  • All RAJA sort operations are in the namespace RAJA.

  • Each RAJA sort operation is a template on an execution policy parameter. The same policy types used for RAJA::forall methods may be used for RAJA sorts. Please see Policies for more information.

  • RAJA sort operations accept an optional comparator argument so users can perform different types of sort operations. If no operator is given, the default is a less than operation and the result is a sequence sorted in non-decreasing order.



For sorts using the CUDA or HIP back-end, RAJA implementation uses the NVIDIA CUB library or AMD rocPRIM library, respectively. Typically, the CMake variable CUB_DIR or ROCPRIM_DIR will be automatically set to the location of the CUB or rocPRIM library for the CUDA or rocPRIM installation specified when either back-end is enabled. More details for configuring the CUB or rocPRIM library for a RAJA build can be found Dependencies.

Please see the following tutorial sections for detailed examples that use RAJA scan operations:

Sort Operations

In general, a sort operation takes a sequence of numbers ‘x’ and a binary comparison operator ‘op’ to form a strict weak ordering of elements in input sequence ‘x’ and produce a sequence of numbers ‘y’ as output. The output sequence is a permutation of the input sequence where each pair of elements ‘a’ and ‘b’, where ‘a’ is before ‘b’ in the output sequence, satisfies ‘!(b op a)’. Sorts are stable if they always preserve the order of equivalent elements, where equivalent means ‘!(a op b) && !(b op a)’ is true.

A stable sort takes an input sequence ‘x’ where ai appears before aj if i < j when ai and aj are equivalent for any i != j.

x = { a0, b0, a1, … }

and calculates the stably sorted output sequence ‘y’ that preserves the order of equivalent elements. That is, the sorted sequence where element ai appears before the equivalent element aj if i < j:

y = { a0, a1, b0, … }

An unstable sort may not preserve the order of equivalent elements and may produce either of the following output sequences:

y = { a0, a1, b0, … }


y = { a1, a0, b0, … }

RAJA Unstable Sorts

RAJA unstable sort operations look like the following:

  • RAJA::sort< exec_policy >(container)

  • RAJA::sort< exec_policy >(container, comparator)

For example, sorting an integer array with this sequence of values:

6 7 2 1 0 9 4 8 5 3 4 9 6 3 7 0 1 8 2 5

with a sequential unstable sort operation:

  std::copy_n(in, N, out);

  RAJA::sort<RAJA::seq_exec>(RAJA::make_span(out, N));

produces the out array with this sequence of values:

0 0 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9

Note that the syntax is essentially the same as Scan Operations. Here, container is a random access range of elements. container provides access to the input sequence and contains the output sequence at the end of sort. The sort operation listed above will be a non-decreasing sort since there is no comparator argument given; i.e., the sequences will be reordered in-place using the default RAJA less-than comparator.

Equivalently, the RAJA::operators::less comparator operator could be passed as the second argument to the sort routine to produce the same result:

  RAJA::sort<RAJA::seq_exec>(RAJA::make_span(out, N),

Note that container arguments can be generated from iterators using RAJA::make_span(out, N), where we pass the base pointer for the array and its length.

RAJA also provides sort operations that operate on key-value pairs stored separately:

  • RAJA::sort_pairs< exec_policy >(keys_container, vals_container)

  • RAJA::sort_pairs< exec_policy >(keys_container, vals_container, comparator)

RAJA::sort_pairs methods generate the same output sequence of keys in keys_container as RAJA::sort does in container and reorders the sequence of values in vals_container by permuting the sequence of values in the same manner as the sequence of keys; i.e. the sequence of pairs is sorted based on comparing their keys. Detailed examples are provided in Parallel Sort Operations.


The comparator used in RAJA::sort_pairs only compares keys.

RAJA Stable Sorts

RAJA stable sort operations are used essentially the same as unstable sorts:

  • RAJA::stable_sort< exec_policy >(container)

  • RAJA::stable_sort< exec_policy >(container, comparator)

RAJA also provides stable sort pairs that operate on key-value pairs stored separately:

  • RAJA::stable_sort_pairs< exec_policy >(keys_container, vals_container)

  • RAJA::stable_sort_pairs< exec_policy >(keys_container, vals_container, comparator)

RAJA Comparison Operators

RAJA provides two operators that can be used to produce different ordered sorts:

  • RAJA::operators::less<T>

  • RAJA::operators::greater<T>


All RAJA comparison operators are in the namespace RAJA::operators.