Shape Computation Lab

Sorting Alphabets

Tzu-Chieh Kurt Hong


In current computer structure alphabetical sorting relies on an encoding system that encodes every symbol (numbers, letters, etc) to a binary representation, for example, ASCII coding system. By comparing the values of binary codes, the computer is able to sort alphabets. For instance, the ASCII code of letter “a” is “01100001” (in HEX, 61), letter “b” is “01100010” (in HEX, 62) and letter “c” is “01100011” (in HEX, 63). Because 01100001 is smaller than 01100010 and 01100010 is smaller than 01100011, letters “a”, “b” and “c” can be sorted as “abc” or “cba” by ordering the values of the binary codes. However, this is not straightforward if a programmer wants to sort these letters in the order such as “acb" or “cab”. The relationship among the binary representations of these three letters has to redefined for a new sorting order. This video shows that Shape Machine is able to sort letters visually by simply applying shape rules. Furthermore, if users want a different sorting order, they can easily change the shape rules to obtain it. .