*What is an algorithm?*

*What is an algorithm?*

We explain what a computer algorithm is and what it’s for. Characteristics and parts of an algorithm. Practical examples.

Basically, an algorithm is used to solve a problem step by step.

In computing, an algorithm is a **sequence of sequential instructions**, thanks to which certain processes can be carried out and certain needs or decisions responded to. These are ordered and finite sets of steps, which allow us to solve a problem or make a decision.

Algorithms have nothing to do with programming languages, since the same algorithm or flowchart **can be represented in several programming languages**, i.e. it is a pre-programming arrangement.

Seen in this way, a program is nothing more than a complex series of algorithms ordered and codified by means of a programming language for its later execution in a computer.

Algorithms are also common in mathematics and logic, and are **the basis for the manufacture of user manuals, instruction booklets, etc**.

Its name comes from the Latin *algoritmus* and this surname comes from the Persian mathematician Al-Juarismi.

One of the best-known algorithms of mathematics is the one attributed to Euclid, to obtain the maximum common divisor of two positive integers, or the so-called “Gauss method” to solve systems of linear equations.

**Parts of an algorithm**

**Parts of an algorithm**

Every algorithm must consist of the following parts:

**Input or input**. The input of the data that the algorithm needs to operate.- Process This is the formal logical operation that the algorithm will undertake with the input received.
**Output or output**. The results obtained from the process on the input, once the execution of the algorithm is finished.

*What is an algorithm for?*

*What is an algorithm for?*

Simply put, an algorithm **is used to solve a problem step by step**. A series of ordered and sequenced instructions to guide a given process.

In computer science, however, algorithms constitute the skeleton of processes that will then be coded and programmed to be performed by the computer.

**Types**

**Types**

There are four types of algorithms in computing:

**Computational algorithms**. An algorithm whose resolution depends on the calculation, and which can be developed by a calculator or computer without difficulties.**Non-computational algorithms**. Those that do not require the processes of a computer to be resolved, or whose steps are exclusive to human resolution.**Qualitative algorithms**. This is an algorithm whose resolution does not involve numerical calculations, but logical and/or formal sequences.**Quantitative algorithms**. On the contrary, it is an algorithm that depends on mathematical calculations to find its resolution.

**Characteristics of the algorithms**

**Characteristics of the algorithms**

An algorithm must deliver a result based on its functions.

The algorithms have the following characteristics:

**Sequential**. The algorithms operate in sequence, one must be processed at a time.**Precise**. Algorithms must be precise in their approach to the subject, i.e. they cannot be ambiguous or subjective.**Ordained**. The algorithms must be established in the precise and exact sequence so that their reading makes sense and the problem is solved.**Finite**. Any sequence of algorithms has to have a certain end, it cannot be prolonged to infinity.**Concrete**. Every algorithm must give a result based on the functions it fulfills.**Defined**. The same algorithm before the same input elements must always give the same results.

**Examples of algorithms**

**Examples of algorithms**

A couple of possible examples of algorithm are:

**Algorithm for choosing party shoes**:

- HOME
- Enter the shop and look for the men’s shoe section.
- Take a pair of shoes.
- Are those party shoes?

YES, I DO: (go to step 5) – NO: (back to step 3)

- Is it the right size?

YES, I DO: (go to step 6) – NO: (back to step 3)

- Is the price payable?

YES, I DO: (go to step 7) – NO: (back to step 3)

- Buy the chosen pair of shoes.
- END

**Algorithm for calculating the area of a right triangle**:

- HOME
- Find the measurements of the base (b) and height (h)
- Multiply: base by height (b x h)
- Divide the result by 2 (b x h) / 2
- END

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