## Introduction

Linear search, also known as a sequential search, is a simple search algorithm that checks every element of a dataset until it finds the target value.

For instance, suppose you come across a bookshelf where the books are not arranged in any particular order. If you are asked to locate a specific book from the shelf, you would need to perform a linear search to locate it.

## How does it work?

This algorithm starts from the beginning of the dataset and checks each element in turn until it either finds the target value or reaches the end of the dataset.

If the target value is found, it returns the index of that value. Otherwise, it returns a value like -1 or “Not found” which indicates that the value is not found within the dataset.

## When should we use linear search?

Linear search is an excellent choice for searching small unsorted datasets. Since it checks every element of the list, it is guaranteed to find the target element if it is present. This is in contrast to other search algorithms like binary search, which require the list to be sorted before they can be used effectively.

## Why should we use linear search?

One of the primary advantages of linear search is its simplicity. Linear search is straightforward to implement, making it an ideal choice for simple applications.

Another advantage of linear search is its flexibility. It can be used to search for any type of data, including strings, numbers, and objects. This makes it a versatile algorithm that can be used in different programming languages and applications.

## Disadvantages

Linear search has some disadvantages as well. One of the most significant disadvantages is its time complexity. The algorithm has a linear time complexity, meaning that as the size of the list increases, the time required to search the list also increases proportionally. This can make linear search impractical for large datasets or applications that require fast search times. Another disadvantage of linear search is that it can be less efficient than other search algorithms like binary search for sorted lists.

## Alternatives

While linear search is a useful tool, there are also other search algorithms that may be more appropriate for certain applications. One such algorithm is binary search, which is more efficient than linear search for sorted lists. Another alternative to linear search is hash tables. Hash tables are a data structure that provides constant-time insertion, deletion, and search operations. This makes them ideal for applications that require fast search times, such as database management systems.

## Summary

In summary, linear search is a simple and versatile search algorithm that can be used to search for an element in a list of data. It is ideal for small unsorted lists and simple applications. However, for large or sorted lists, other search algorithms may be more appropriate.