exercism fetch ocaml binary-search

Binary Search

Implement a binary search algorithm.

Searching a sorted collection is a common task. A dictionary is a sorted list of word definitions. Given a word, one can find its definition. A telephone book is a sorted list of people's names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Knowing someone's name allows one to quickly find their telephone number and address.

If the list to be searched contains more than a few items (a dozen, say) a binary search will require far fewer comparisons than a linear search, but it imposes the requirement that the list be sorted.

In computer science, a binary search or half-interval search algorithm finds the position of a specified input value (the search "key") within an array sorted by key value.

In each step, the algorithm compares the search key value with the key value of the middle element of the array.

If the keys match, then a matching element has been found and its index, or position, is returned.

Otherwise, if the search key is less than the middle element's key, then the algorithm repeats its action on the sub-array to the left of the middle element or, if the search key is greater, on the sub-array to the right.

If the remaining array to be searched is empty, then the key cannot be found in the array and a special "not found" indication is returned.

A binary search halves the number of items to check with each iteration, so locating an item (or determining its absence) takes logarithmic time. A binary search is a dichotomic divide and conquer search algorithm.

Getting Started

For installation and learning resources, refer to the exercism help page.


To work on the exercises, you will need Opam and Core. Consult opam website for instructions on how to install opam for your OS. Once opam is installed open a terminal window and run the following command to install core:

opam install core

To run the tests you will need OUnit. Install it using opam:

opam install ounit

Running Tests

A Makefile is provided with a default target to compile your solution and run the tests. At the command line, type:


Interactive Shell

utop is a command line program which allows you to run Ocaml code interactively. The easiest way to install it is via opam:

opam install utop

Consult utop for more detail.

Feedback, Issues, Pull Requests

The exercism/ocaml repository on GitHub is the home for all of the Ocaml exercises.

If you have feedback about an exercise, or want to help implementing a new one, head over there and create an issue. We'll do our best to help you!


Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_search_algorithm

Submitting Incomplete Solutions

It's possible to submit an incomplete solution so you can see how others have completed the exercise.