A formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem. To be an algorithm, a set of rules must be unambiguous and have a clear stopping point. Algorithms can be expressed in any language, from natural languages like English or French to programming languages like FORTRAN.

We use algorithms every day. For example, a recipe for baking a cake is an algorithm. Most programs, with the exception of some artificial intelligence applications, consist of algorithms. Inventing elegant algorithms -- algorithms that are simple and require the fewest steps possible -- is one of the principal challenges in programming.

From Webopedia:algorithm∞

See also Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures∞.

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