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[al-guh-rith-uh m] /ˈæl gəˌrɪð əm/
a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor.
Origin of algorithm
1890-95; variant of algorism, by association with Greek arithmós number. See arithmetic
Related forms
algorithmic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for algorithm
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Historical Examples
  • Then the CAD people added an algorithm that would take the sensor data and generate random variations on the same basis.


    Cory Doctorow
British Dictionary definitions for algorithm


a logical arithmetical or computational procedure that if correctly applied ensures the solution of a problem Compare heuristic
(logic, maths) a recursive procedure whereby an infinite sequence of terms can be generated
French name algorism
Derived Forms
algorithmic, adjective
algorithmically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: changed from algorism, through influence of Greek arithmos number
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for algorithm

1690s, from French algorithme, refashioned (under mistaken connection with Greek arithmos "number") from Old French algorisme "the Arabic numeral system" (13c.), from Medieval Latin algorismus, a mangled transliteration of Arabic al-Khwarizmi "native of Khwarazm," surname of the mathematician whose works introduced sophisticated mathematics to the West (see algebra). The earlier form in Middle English was algorism (early 13c.), from Old French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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algorithm in Medicine

algorithm al·go·rithm (āl'gə-rĭð'əm)
A step-by-step protocol, as for management of health care problems.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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algorithm in Science
A finite set of unambiguous instructions performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a goal, especially a mathematical rule or procedure used to compute a desired result. Algorithms are the basis for most computer programming.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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algorithm in Culture
algorithm [(al-guh-rith-uhm)]

A set of instructions for solving a problem, especially on a computer. An algorithm for finding your total grocery bill, for example, would direct you to add up the costs of individual items to find the total.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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