Linear search, also known as a sequential search, is an algorithm used to locate a specific value within a list of items. It is a direct search method that checks each item in the list sequentially until the desired item is found, or the end of the list is reached. It is a simple and straightforward technique, but can be more time consuming than other search algorithms.

The linear search algorithm implements a loop to step through the list and compare the desired value with each element. If the element at the current position matches the desired value, the search is complete and the element’s position is returned. If it does not match, then the loop continues through each element in the list sequentially. If no elements match the desired value, then the loop reaches the end of the list without finding the desired element and the linear search algorithm returns a value indicating that the desired element was not found.

Linear search can be used on both sorted and unsorted lists. When a list is sorted, a binary search algorithm is typically more efficient for element search as it can narrow the search area in half with each iteration, while linear search uses the same amount of steps no matter the size of the list.

Linear search is a relatively simple algorithm and can be used for both one-dimensional and multi-dimensional structures. It is also used in Internet browsers to search through web pages and other documents.

Linear search is often used in computer programming and other areas of computing such as cybersecurity. It may be used to verify credentials or data by searching through logs or databases. It is also an important security technique as it can reveal unauthorized access and possible data corruption.

Linear search is an efficient method for finding required elements when there are few items in the list, or when the list does not change often. For larger lists, or frequently updated lists, other search algorithms may be more efficient.

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