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Definition: Algorithm

Educative Answers Team

An algorithm is a sequence of instructions on how to perform a specific task. The task can be as simple as multiplying two numbers or as complex as building recommendation systems using neural networks.

An algorithm is simply a list of steps to be performed. For example, an algorithm for heating food would be:

  • Take the food out of the fridge.

  • Put the food into the microwave.

  • Set the timer and start the microwave.

  • Wait until the timer runs out.

  • Take out the food from the microwave.

Any existing algorithm can be defined within a certain amount of space and time in a well-defined formal language.

In almost every case, there are multiple algorithms that solve a particular problem; the challenge lies in determining the most efficient algorithm for the program to run as fast as possible with minimal use of system resources.

A common practice is to further optimize an already existing algorithm to be released as a future update instead of trying to figure out an efficient algorithm from scratch.

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