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
The company has also started testing algorithms to identify accounts set up for the sole purpose of abusing other users.
Eventually, those algorithms will be in our heads, an electric fuzz that contains our taste.
Using their ability to detect people’s location and interests, the company's algorithms are choosing which people get the rainbow flag while hiding it from others.
One early, popular algorithm on the site was a colorizer — a program used to add color to black and white images.
GMS, or the dollar value of items sold in its online marketplace) had slowed due to problems with its search algorithm.
The $12 million effort would turn over light-switching decisions to a computer system that uses a mix of sensors and algorithms to determine which part of the intersection should be given the green light at any given time.
The trading profession has been largely replaced by algorithms designed by trading technology firms, whose employees also join the club, Nissen said — but prefer to wear jeans.
Then, something magical happened — the Instagram algorithm actually worked.
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
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