Definition of algorithm
: a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation; broadly : a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer a search algorithm
algorithmicplay \ˌal-gə-ˈrith-mik\ adjective
algorithmicallyplay \-mi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
Recent Examples of algorithm from the Web
And every remaining stock is under the microscope like never before, as powerful computer algorithms, analysts and portfolio managers pick them apart.
What made the format revolutionary was a specific compression algorithm, named Lempel-Ziv-Welch for its three creators (Abraham Lemepl, Jacob Ziv and Terry Welch).
Jet was built on a real-time pricing algorithm that determines which sellers are the most efficient in value and shipping.
Morgan Stanley is about to augment its 16,000 financial advisers with machine-learning algorithms that suggest trades, take over routine tasks and send reminders when your birthday is near.
Ms. Cohen and Mr. Goldberg, who met in February 2013, were smiled upon by the algorithm gods, as they were deemed perfect matches on two websites: HowAboutWe and Nerve.
And some courts are using new algorithms to reduce recidivism.
So their actual results were surprising—to the algorithms, at least.
Dr. Kronauer said his students and postdoctoral fellows designed everything from scratch: computer algorithms, tracking devices, the incised mazes.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'algorithm'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
What Does algorithm Mean?
The current term of choice for a problem-solving procedure, algorithm, is commonly used nowadays for the set of rules a machine (and especially a computer) follows to achieve a particular goal. It does not always apply to computer-mediated activity, however. The term may as accurately be used of the steps followed in making a pizza or solving a Rubik’s Cube as for computer-powered data analysis.
Algorithm is often paired with words specifying the activity for which a set of rules have been designed. A search algorithm, for example, is a procedure that determines what kind of information is retrieved from a large mass of data. An encryption algorithm is a set of rules by which information or messages are encoded so that unauthorized persons cannot read them.
Though first attested in the early 20th century (and, until recently, used strictly as a term of mathematics and computing), algorithm has a surprisingly deep history. It was formed from algorism “the system of Arabic numerals,” a word that goes back to Middle English and ultimately stems from the name of a 9th-century Persian mathematician, abu-Jaʽfar Mohammed ibn-Mūsa al-Khuwārizmi, who did important work in the fields of algebra and numeric systems.
Origin and Etymology of algorithm
alteration of Middle English algorisme, from Old French & Medieval Latin; Old French, from Medieval Latin algorismus, from Arabic al-khuwārizmi, from al-Khwārizmī flourished a.d. 825 Islamic mathematician
First Known Use: 1926See Words from the same year
ALGORITHM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of algorithm for English Language Learners
: a set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up algorithm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).