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Glossary: algorithm

In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a set of well-defined instruction steps for calculating a function.It is a step-by-step procedure for calculations.

Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning. In simple words an algorithm

They are usually expressed in a flowchart - see the diagram on the right and this page for more detail.

Starting from an initial state and initial input the instructions in the algorithm describe a set of actions (called a computation) that, when carried out meticulously (executed - in computer speak), will produce an output (an answer).

Some algorithms, known as randomized algorithms, incorporate random inputs - these produces unpredictable output values.