Algorithms are everywhere in this world. You might have heard about it before. But what is an algorithm exactly? and why it is important? So an Algorithm is a step-by-step procedure to accomplish a specific task, for example, it can be a recipe of your favorite cookie but what is an algorithm in programming?
What is an Algorithm in programming languages?
Algorithms are the backbone of the computer science field and we use them in every part be it running a rocket or running a video game or running a simple calculator. An algorithm is a list of well-defined rules or instructions that a computer needs to follow to complete a specific task. For example, a list of instructions that the computer needs to follow to add three numbers. Algorithms help the computer to solve any problem or to do anything. We all have seen food recipes – ingredients(inputs), steps to follow, and the final dish(output). The term algorithm is just like that. While writing the algorithm, we specify the tasks for a computer to be followed to get the final result. The algorithm takes the input from the user, follows the mentioned actions, and then displays the output.
How do programming algorithms work?
Computer algorithms work in three steps – taking the input, running the tasks, showing the output. For example, think about Google, we write our query in the search box, Google searches for our query into the database and then shows the result. However, it is important to understand that programming code and algorithm both are different. You write the algorithm in simple English and no code is added in that. You label the first step as ‘start’ and the last step as ‘end’. You write your instructions for the computer in the middle of that.
Here is an algorithm to add two numbers:
Step1: Take two numbers as input
Step2: Add numbers using the ‘+’ operator
Step3: Display the result
Let’s take one more example and this time we will write an algorithm to find the largest number among three numbers.
Step1: Declare variables a,b and c.
Step2: Read variables a,b and c.
Step3: If a > b
If a > c
Display a is the largest number.
Display c is the largest number.
If b > c
Display b is the largest number.
Display c is the largest number.
Variables: They hold a single word, number, or any other information in code and
include variable type, name, and value.
If and Else statement: 'If' runs a part of code if the condition is satisfied and 'Else'
runs a part of code if the condition is not satisfied.
What are some of the common types of Algorithms?
We divide the types of algorithms based on the approach that they follow to complete a task. Here are some of the most common types of algorithm that is used in the programming world:
- Brute force algorithms – In this type of algorithm, we try all possible solutions until we get a satisfactory solution.
- Divide and conquer algorithms – We divide the main problem into small parts and then solve those small parts. After that, we combine the solutions of small parts to form the solution for the original problem.
- Randomized algorithms – Here we use random numbers to solve our problem.
- Recursive algorithms – In this, we solve the simplest and lowest version of the problem and then solve increasingly larger versions of the same problem
until we get a solution for the original problem.
- Backtracking algorithms – We divide the problem into small subproblems, each of which is attempted to be solved; however, if we don’t get the desired solution, we move backward in the problem until the right path is found.
- Dynamic programming algorithms – We break a complex problem into smaller and simpler subproblems, then solve each of those subproblems. The solution of these subproblems is stored for future use so we do not need to solve them again.
Why Algorithms are important in programming languages?
Algorithms allow you to break down the problem and to understand it easily. They give us the most ideal way to accomplish a task or to solve a problem. Here are the few reasons why it is so important to understand algorithms:
- Algorithms help us in improving the efficiency of our computer program. Most of the time, there are multiple ways to solve a problem, so finding the more efficient, accurate, and easy way to implement is important. Algorithms give us the best possible way to solve a problem.
- We can properly utilize the available resources like memory, power, and time by following the right choice of algorithm.
- In an Algorithm, we break down the problem into smaller parts or steps. Thus it becomes easier for the programmer to convert it into the actual program.
An Important Step in Programming...
Algorithms are one of the most important parts of programming languages and they make the coding part easier for us. While coding a solution for a given problem it is important to utilize the resources properly and get the final result in less time. There are different types of algorithms available for different types of problems. If you are planning to build a future in programming then learning algorithms will make a significant change in that. Start learning from today and all the best.