# algorithm

## Origin of algorithm

## OTHER WORDS FROM algorithm

al·go·rith·mic, adjective## Words nearby algorithm

## MORE ABOUT ALGORITHM

## What is an *algorithm*?

An *algorithm* is a set of instructions or rules that can be followed to solve a problem.

*Algorithms* are most commonly used in mathematics and computing, and they can often be very complex or have many steps or sets of instructions.

For example, your teacher asks you to add 537 and 162. You might solve the problem by lining up 162 under 537 and adding the columns of numbers together. You add the 7 and 2 in the ones column to get 9, Next, you add the numbers in the tens column (3 and 6) to get 9. Finally, you add 5 and 1 in the hundreds column and get 6. Your answer, then, is 699. You have followed an addition *algorithm* to find the solution.

In computing, a computer coder will create a set of instructions (the *algorithm*) that a computer or artificial intelligence will use to solve a problem or will consult in order to achieve a goal. Let’s say you spend the day watching Star Wars videos on YouTube. With each video you watch, the website will recommend other videos it thinks you will like. How does it know what you like? It runs an *algorithm* that finds videos that are similar to the ones you’ve already watched. If Darth Vader shows up in a video of a car commercial, YouTube will likely recommend it to you to watch because Vader was in a lot of the Star Wars videos you’ve already watched.

## Why is *algorithm* important?

The first records of the term *algorithm* come from around 1690. It is a variation of the older word *algorism*, which ultimately comes from the name of the ninth-century mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. Actual *algorithms* have been used in math since ancient times. The Euclidean *algorithm*, for example, was thought up by the Greek mathematician Euclid around 300 b.c.e.

Just by using the internet, you have very likely run into an *algorithm*—or at least the results of one. Search engines use *algorithms* to figure out what order to put search results in, websites use them to determine which ads to show you, and social media websites use them to decide which of your friends’ posts you are most likely to want to see.

Many websites keep the specifics of how their *algorithm* works a secret. They do this in order to prevent users from exploiting or abusing the *algorithm* to guarantee it selects their content over everyone else’s. For example, if a user knew that YouTube’s recommendation *algorithm* prioritizes videos that are exactly four minutes long, they could create hundreds of four-minute videos to trick the *algorithm* into showing their videos to the majority of YouTube users.

## Did you know … ?

Many *algorithms* used on websites are designed to adjust themselves and learn the best ways to accomplish problems. Because of this, *algorithms* will often behave in ways their designers never expected. An *algorithm* can even change itself to the point that even the original creator has no idea how it works anymore.

## What are real-life examples of *algorithm*?

This video gives a simplified explanation of how computing *algorithms* work:

Many people have become familiar (and annoyed) with *algorithms*, thanks to their increasingly common use in computing.

honestly i have no idea what i've done but twitter's algorithm is 100% convinced i'm a farmer

— CarolineJMolloy (@carolinejmolloy) August 26, 2020

## What other words are related to algorithm?

## Quiz yourself!

**Is the following a correct use of algorithm?**

*Rather than follow a set of instructions, the website instead uses an algorithm that randomly selects which advertisements to show users.*

## How to use algorithm in a sentence

## British Dictionary definitions for algorithm

## Derived forms of algorithm

algorithmic, adjectivealgorithmically, adverb## Word Origin for algorithm

## Scientific definitions for algorithm

## Cultural definitions for algorithm

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.