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July 8, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:43pm

What is an algorithm?

Term named after one of the fathers of algebra.

By Ellie Burns

In computing, an algorithm is a set of rules or processes which need to be followed in order to solve a problem or calculation.

Algorithms define a sequence of operations and are a key component in how computer programs detail the specific instructions a computer should perform in order to carry out specific task.



Put simply, a computer program tells a computer what to do, with the algorithm giving the step by step instructions for how the computer should do it.

The word algorithm originates from Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, a Persian mathematician, astronomer, scholar and geographer, whose Latinized name Algoritmi inspired the term. He is also considered one of the fathers of algebra.


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