This sorting technique is based on the values of the actual digits in the positional representations of the numbers being sorted. Using the decimal base, for example, where the radix is 10, the numbers can be partitioned into ten groups on the sorter. For example, to sort a collection of numbers where each number is a four-digit number, then, All the numbers are first sorted according to the the digit at unit's place.
In the second pass, the numbers are sorted according to the digit at tenth place. In the third pass, the numbers are sorted according to the digit at hundredth place. In the forth and last pass, the numbers are sorted according to the digit at thousandth place.
During each pass, each number is taken in the order in which it appears in partitions from unit's place onwards. When these actions have been performed for each digit, starting with the least significant and ending with most significant, the numbers are sorted. This sorting method is called the radix sort.
Let us take another example. Suppose we have a list of names. To sort these names using radix sort method we will have to classify them into 26 groups The list is first sorted on the first letter of each name, i.e. the names are arranged in 26 classes, where the first class consists of those names that begin with alphabet 'A', the second class consists of those names that begin with alphabet 'B' and so on. During the second pass each class is alphabetized according to the second letter of the name, and so on.