What is an algorithm?

In: Mathematics

An algorithm is a set of rules. It can be (part of) a computer program, for example. This set of rules determines how to process data, and in what order to apply the rules.

The purpose of algorithms is usually to process data. You input some data – for example, how many cars drive on each road of your city at a given time -, and the algorithm works on that data and produces new data based on the input. In this example, maybe how to control the traffic lights most efficiently.

Algorithms can be as simple as “add 1 to the input number” to “calculate the climate data for the next 100 years”, so the range is very wide. For climate calculations, you would normally talk about a lot of algorithms working together, but in the end it”s all about a set of rules to process data.

An algorithm is a series of steps to accomplish some goal or task. Usually you hear it in terms of computer science and programming.