Anyone who has been around the world of technology for even a short period of time will hear the term "algorithm", most likely sooner rather than later. It seems like one of those buzzwords passed around so ubiquitously in the tech world that some people on the fringes might feel they should automatically know what the terms means. If this sounds like you, read on to learn what algorithms really are and why everyone is always talking about them in the world of technology.
Defining an Algorithm
A dictionary will often define the term "algorithm" as a set of specific instructions that will solve a mathematical problem or another specific task, although it might seem as if the computer world has taken over the term and made it completely its own. There is good reason for that since computers at their core are simply machines that read instructions, and execute or process, the tasks found in those instructions. However, many other fields including mathematics, still frequently make use of the term because it accurately describes their processes as well. For example, multiplying two numbers together is a simple mathematical process, but the process does use an algorithm or a specific set of instructions, to arrive at a solution.
Computers and Algorithms
Algorithms are found all over the computer world because essentially all computers and smart devices use them in order to arrive at a solution. In the computer world, a set of instructions is often called a "function". Programmers in the banking industry for example, can write functions that will determine the monthly payment for a customer's bank loan. A programmer in a hospital setting might write a function to determine how many patients they admit every month. Search engine companies create instructions, or algorithms, designed to provide a user with relevant results from a typed-in query.
Considering that computers all over the world are following countless sets of instructions (algorithms) every second, it is now easy to understand why an algorithm is so much more than a buzzword. Collectively, algorithms are actually one of the main backbones of the entire tech industry.
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