Introsort or introspective sort is a hybrid sorting algorithm that provides both fast average performance and (asymptotically) optimal worst-case performance. It begins with quicksort and switches to heapsort when the recursion depth exceeds a level based on (the logarithm of) the number of elements being sorted. This combines the good parts of both algorithms, with practical performance comparable to quicksort on typical data sets and worst-case O(n log n) runtime due to the heap sort. Since both algorithms it uses are comparison sorts, it too is a comparison sort.
Introsort was invented by David Musser in , in which he also introduced introselect, a hybrid selection algorithm based on quickselect (a variant of quicksort), which falls back to median of medians and thus provides worst-case linear complexity, which is optimal. Both algorithms were introduced with the purpose of providing generic algorithms for the C++ Standard Library which had both fast average performance and optimal worst-case performance, thus allowing the performance requirements to be tightened.