Generally searching for a specific element in an array means that
potentially all elements must be checked. The GNU C library contains
functions to perform linear search. The prototypes for the following
two functions can be found in search.h.
The lfind function searches in the array with *nmemb
elements of size bytes pointed to by base for an element
which matches the one pointed to by key. The function pointed to
by compar is used decide whether two elements match.
The return value is a pointer to the matching element in the array
starting at base if it is found. If no matching element is
available NULL is returned.
The mean runtime of this function is *nmemb/2. This
function should only be used elements often get added to or deleted from
the array in which case it might not be useful to sort the array before
The lsearch function is similar to the lfind function. It
searches the given array for an element and returns it if found. The
difference is that if no matching element is found the lsearch
function adds the object pointed to by key (with a size of
size bytes) at the end of the array and it increments the value of
*nmemb to reflect this addition.
This means for the caller that if it is not sure that the array contains
the element one is searching for the memory allocated for the array
starting at base must have room for at least size more
bytes. If one is sure the element is in the array it is better to use
lfind so having more room in the array is always necessary when
To search a sorted array for an element matching the key, use the
bsearch function. The prototype for this function is in
the header file stdlib.h.
The bsearch function searches the sorted array array for an object
that is equivalent to key. The array contains count elements,
each of which is of size size bytes.
The compare function is used to perform the comparison. This
function is called with two pointer arguments and should return an
integer less than, equal to, or greater than zero corresponding to
whether its first argument is considered less than, equal to, or greater
than its second argument. The elements of the array must already
be sorted in ascending order according to this comparison function.
The return value is a pointer to the matching array element, or a null
pointer if no match is found. If the array contains more than one element
that matches, the one that is returned is unspecified.
This function derives its name from the fact that it is implemented
using the binary search algorithm.
Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License