Today in this post, we are going to discuss ‘What Is Algorithm – Full Information’. The word Algorithm means “a process or set of rules which are followed in calculations or other problem solving operations”. In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm usually means a small procedure that solves a repetition problem. We can further say that the computer programs are a comprehensive algorithm version. An algorithm is the design of a set of precise and unambiguous instructions so that the desired results are obtained in a limited step.
- When an algorithm is expressed in a pictorial manner with some special symbols to indicate the different types of instructions, and then it is called a ‘Flowchart’.
- When an algorithm is written in a structural form that resembles computer instructions it is called a ‘Pseudocode’.
- The word algorithm derives from the name of the 9th century mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, who was a part of the royal court in Baghdad. Al-Khwarizmi’s work is a possible source of the algebra word as well.
Characteristics of Algorithms
In short the steps that need to be followed to achieve the desired result from the algorithm should be:-
- Effective: It means an answer should be found when the algorithm is applied.
- Easy to understand: Algorithm should be clear and unambiguous So that it is easily understood.
- Well defined inputs and outputs: If an algorithm asks to take input, it should be a well-defined input and as well as an algorithm should define an output as a result.
- Reliable: It should be reliable and based on present technology.
- Language independent: The algorithm should be designed in a language independent structure i.e. it can be applied on any of the programming language and the output will be same, as expected.
- Finishes or End Point: that means it has a finite number of steps and should not go on infinitely.
Most Important Types of Algorithms
Algorithms are classified based on the concepts they use to perform a task. There are different types of algorithm used in programming but here we are going to discuss about the most important and the fundamental types of algorithms.
1. Divide and Conquer Algorithms
This type of algorithm repeatedly breaks down a complicated problem into two or more parts of the same or related type, until the problem become simple enough to be solved directly in an easy way. At last the solutions to the sub-problems are combined to give the final result of the original problem. Quick Sort, Integer Multiplication, Merge Sort, Binary Search are some examples of divide and conquer algorithm.
2. Recursive Algorithms
This type of algorithm is based on recursion. In recursion, a problem is broken down into similar sub-problems and solved by repeatedly calling oneself until the problem is solved with the help of a base condition. Some common problems that can be easily solved using the recursive algorithm are – Factorial of a Number,Towers of Hanoi (TOH),Fibonacci Series, In-order/Pre-order/Post-order Tree Traversals, DFS for Graph etc.
3. Brute Force Algorithms
This is the most basic and simplest type of algorithm. It tries all possible solutions until a satisfactory solution is found of any problem. A classic example in computer science of the brute force algorithm is the travelling salesman problem (TSP).
4. Greedy Algorithms
In this method, the solution is built part by part. It always chooses the next piece that offers the most obvious and instant advantage. Some common problems that can be easily solved through the greedy algorithm are – Prim’s Algorithm, Huffman Coding and Kruskal’s Algorithm etc. Greedy algorithms appear in network routing as well.
5. Dynamic Programming Algorithms
This type of algorithm is also known as the memoization technique because it stores the previously calculated result to avoid repeated counting. We can solve the Dijkstra Shortest Path Algorithm, Weighted Job Scheduling, Knapsack Problem and Floyd Warshall Algorithm etc through this method.
6. Randomized Algorithms
An algorithm that uses random numbers to determine what needs to be done in a reasonable place is called a randomized algorithm. For example, in Randomized Quick Sort, we use random number to pick the next pivot (or we randomly shuffle the array).
7. Backtracking Algorithms
A backtracking algorithm is a problem-solving algorithm that uses a brute force approach for finding the desired output. It solves any problem in an incremental (extended) way. For example, consider the Sudoku puzzle solving Problem, we try filling digits one by one.
Advantages of Algorithm
Algorithms have some advantages and disadvantages. Below we are going to discuss about it. The advantages of an algorithm are:-
- It is easy to understand, clear and unambiguous.
- It is designed step by step to solve any complex problem.
- It is not dependent on any programming language, so it is easy to understand for anyone since the programming knowledge is not very necessary to know.
- Algorithm breaks down a complex problem into small steps so it becomes easier for the programmer to convert it into an actual program.
- An algorithm always uses a definite procedure.
- Each step of the algorithm has its own logical sequence so it is easy to debug.
- Algorithm actually acts like a blueprint of a program, so it is easy to design an algorithm first and then convert it into a flowchart and then into an actual computer program to solve any problem.
- It helps a beginner to understand that how actually a problem can be solved easily.
Disadvantages of Algorithm
Here are some of the disadvantages of algorithm:-
- It always takes a long time to write and design an algorithm in a proper way, so it is time consuming.
- Complex problems are difficult to put in algorithms.
- It is difficult to show the branching and looping statements in algorithms.
- Designing and understanding the complex logic through algorithms can sometimes be very difficult.
Here Are Some Examples of Algorithms
Example 1:- Finding the addition of two numbers
- Step 1: Input A
- Step 2: Input B
- Step 3: Sum := A+B
- Step 4: print Sum
- Step 5: Stop
Example 2:- Finding the average of a fixed number of inputs
- Step 1: Add the numbers (n1+n2+n3+,……,+nn) to get the sum S
- Step 2: Divided the sum by the number count i.e. n to get the average Avg:=S/n
- Step 3: Print the average Avg
- Step 4: Stop
Algorithms have given birth to some of the largest corporate empires such as Google, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Volvo and more. In fact, the tech giant Google was born because Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to develop such an algorithm that would allow users to easily find some information on the Internet. While Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Uber are great examples of digital natives that create and use algorithms, some of the most interesting work is being done by sector-leading companies such as Dell, HP, Under Armour, Corning, Colgate-Palmolive, Li & Fung and others.
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The world’s first computer algorithm, written by Ada Lovelace, sells for $1,25,000 at auction. More than 200 years later, she is remembered by many as the world’s first computer programmer also.
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