# F# Sort List Examples: sortBy, Lambdas

Sort a list with the List.sort function. Use sortBy with a fun to customize the sort order.**Sort.** A list has numbers: 10, 5, 7. They are not sorted. With a function call we can reorder them in ascending or descending order.

**For more advanced sorts,** we can provide a function to sortBy. This selects a key that is then sorted. Collections like arrays can be sorted with Seq.

**First example.** Here we introduce a string list containing the names of geometric shapes. We call List.sort with this list as the argument.

**Result:** The shapes are sorted in ascending order (as strings). A copy is sorted, so the original is untouched.

String**F# program that uses List.sort**
let shapes = [*"triangle"*; *"square"*; *"ellipse"*; *"rectangle"*]*
// Use List.sort to sort the string list.
// ... A sorted copy is returned.
*let result = __List.sort__ shapes*
// Print both lists.
*printfn *"Unsorted: %A"* shapes
printfn *" Sorted: %A"* result
**Output**
Unsorted: ["triangle"; "square"; "ellipse"; "rectangle"]
Sorted: ["ellipse"; "rectangle"; "square"; "triangle"]

**List.sortBy.** This function is more advanced. It lets us select a key to sort for each element. The lambda we pass to sortBy must return a value—this is sorted.

**Result:** SortBy returns a copy of the List that is sorted. As with sort, the original is not changed.

**F# program that uses List.sortBy, sorts strings by length**
let values = [*"aa"*; *"x"*; *"zzz"*; *"yy"*; *"eeee"*]*
// Sort the string list by length in ascending (low to high) order.
*let result = __List.sortBy__ (fun (x : string) -> x.Length) values*
// Print our results.
*List.iter(fun x -> printfn "%A" x) result
**Output**
"x"
"aa"
"yy"
"zzz"
"eeee"

**Array.sort, sortInPlace.** An array in F# is not the same as a list—an array is a low-level region of memory with elements. We must use special Array functions to sort.

Arrays**Array.sort:** This returns a copied array that is sorted. It does not modify (mutate) the original array's data.

**Array.sortInPlace:** This rearranges the elements in an existing array. No new memory region is allocated.

**F# program that uses Array.sort, sortInPlace**
let offsets = [|10; 2; -2; 4; 40|]
let copy = __Array.sort__ offsets
printfn *"Array = %A"* offsets
printfn *"Copy = %A"* copy
__Array.sortInPlace__ offsets
printfn *"After sortInPlace = %A"* offsets
**Output**
Array = [|10; 2; -2; 4; 40|]
Copy = [|-2; 2; 4; 10; 40|]
After sortInPlace = [|-2; 2; 4; 10; 40|]

**Seq.sort, pipeline.** We can sort collections with Seq.sort. With Seq.ofList, we treat a list as a sequence. Then we can use functions like where and sort in a pipeline.

**Here:** We use "where" to only keep elements containing a lowercase "A." Then we sort them alphabetically, and convert back to a list.

**F# program that uses Seq.sort**
let animals = [*"cat"*; *"bird"*; *"zebra"*; *"leopard"*; *"shark"*]*
// Act on list as a sequence.
// ... Use where to filter our list.
// Use Seq.sort to sort the sequence.
// Use Seq.toList to convert back to a list.
*let sortResult =
__Seq.ofList__ animals
|> Seq.where (fun x-> x.Contains *"a"*)
|> Seq.sort
|> Seq.toList*
// Print all our results.
*__List.iter__ (fun (x : string) -> printfn "%A" x) sortResult
**Output**
"cat"
"leopard"
"shark"
"zebra"

**With this language,** we have features that are well-suited to advanced sorting. We have lambdas and immutable collections (like lists). We invoke built-in sort methods.

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