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What is an Algorithm and How is it Used?

image shows shape of how to use Algorithm

If you are working in the field of mathematics or computer science then you know what an algorithm means, but if you are new to this world then you will need to understand what the word “algorithm” means and how it is used. In order to give a computer some instructions to do, you first need to provide it with a code, and before writing this code, you first need to follow an algorithm. If you want to understand what an algorithm is and how it is used when it comes to coding then keep reading this blog.

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is known to be a set of rules that a person should follow in order to solve a specific problem. Think about the process of solving any problem you have; first you will need to think about the different aspects of the problem, think about how to approach it, and finally come to the point where you will start thinking about different solutions and working on the best one of them. To start working on the solutions that you might come up with regarding any problem, you will need to put some plans and rules to follow, and that’s exactly the same thing when it comes to understanding what an algorithm means.

An algorithm is following the right steps in a process, and there are different examples to help you understand this more, such as getting all the ingredients for a recipe to prepare a meal, or starting the engine of your car before driving it, etc.

In computer science for example, there are a couple of steps that a programmer needs to go through in order to bring out a successful program, such as describing the problem that needs to get solved in a mathematical term, create the formulas that will create results, input the outcome parameters, execute the program to test its accuracy, and at the end the conclusion of the algorithm is the result given after the parameters go through the set of instructions in the program.

How to Use an Algorithm in Coding?

From the perspective of coding, an algorithm is known as the specific procedure that is used to solve a well-defined computational problem. When talking about algorithms, it is important to mention that it is important and fundamental for different aspects in computer science, such as artificial intelligence, databases, graphics, networking, operating systems, and security.

When it comes to a computational problem, an algorithm means to understand and think about all the different alternatives available and this will include the hardware, networking, programming language, and the performance.

Computer algorithms come when you need to give the computer a code to write a program, and in order for the computer to execute a program, you need to give it instructions, step by step. In order to tell the computer what to do, you should first think about how you are going to do that, and that is where computer algorithms help with. In other words, we could say that an algorithm is the basic technique used in order to get a specific job done.

Characteristics of an Algorithm

Not all the instructions written are considered algorithms, but there are some characteristics to be followed in order for these instructions to be considered an algorithm, such as:

  • The algorithm should be clear and all the aspects should lead to only one meaning.

  • If the algorithm says to take inputs, these inputs must be clear and well-defined.

  • The output of an algorithm should be well defined as well.

  • An algorithm should never lead to an infinite loop, but it should be always finite.

  • Any algorithm should be simple and ready to be executed with the available resources, no future technology should be included.

  • The instructions given in an algorithm should be plain and can be implemented in any language with the same output at the end.

Types of Algorithms in Coding

As mentioned above, an algorithm is a procedure or formula that is used to solve a problem, which is conducted through a sequence of specified actions. Since we are talking about algorithms in programming and coding, it is important to know that there are seven different types of programming algorithms, which include:

  1. Sort algorithms

  2. Search algorithms

  3. Hashing

  4. Dynamic programming

  5. Exponential by squaring

  6. String matching and parsing

  7. Primality testing algorithms

Advantages of Algorithms in Coding

There are some advantages to mention when it comes to algorithms and their usage in programming and coding. As we have mentioned before, an algorithm is a procedure or formula used to solve a problem, and that is the most important thing to mention about algorithms; they make the process of solving a problem much easier. There are some other advantages to mention when it comes to algorithms in coding, such as:

  • It makes the process of understanding a problem much easier since it handles the given solution in a sequential way.

  • Algorithms do not depend on a specific programming language, which is considered a perfect thing for all programmers out there, no matter which coding language they are using.

  • Every step in an algorithm has its logical sequence which makes it easier to debug later on.

  • It is easier for the programmer to convert a problem into an actual program with an algorithm since it is easier to break it down to smaller pieces.

The only disadvantage that might come across these advantages is the fact that writing an algorithm takes time which might by time consuming for the programmer.

That’s what algorithm means when it comes to programming and coding, there are some characteristics that define specific instructions to be considered an algorithm, there are different types to be mentioned when it comes to coding, and there are advantages to be considered when thinking about using an algorithm. Now you should be able to define what an algorithm means and why it is considered important to learn more about, especially if you are planning to pursue a career in the world of computer science.

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