<computer programming> A detailed sequence of actions to perform to accomplish some task. Named after the Iranian mathematician, Mohammed Al-Khawarizmi.

Technically, an algorithm must reach a result after a finite number of steps, thus ruling out brute force search methods for certain problems, though some might claim that brute force search was also a valid (generic) algorithm. The term is also used loosely for any sequence of actions (which may or may not terminate).

Paul E. Black's Dictionary of Algorithms, Data Structures, and Problems.

(01 Jul 2002)

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<mathematics> A procedure consisting of a sequence of steps or sequence of formulae to calculate or determine a specific output.

It can represent a set of rules for a calculation or process. Most modern algorithms are used in computing to perform a specific calculation or transformation of data.

(18 Jan 2007)