[ al-guh-rith-uhm ]
See synonyms for: algorithmalgorithmic on

  1. Mathematics. a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, such as the Euclidean algorithm for finding the greatest common divisor.

  2. Computers. an ordered set of instructions recursively applied to transform data input into processed data output, such as a mathematical solution, search engine result, descriptive statistics, or predictive text suggestions.

Origin of algorithm

First recorded in 1690–1700; variant of algorism, by association with Greek arithmós “number”; see arithmetic

Other words from algorithm

  • al·go·rith·mic [al-guh-rith-mik], /ˌæl gəˈrɪð mɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use algorithm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for algorithm


/ (ˈælɡəˌrɪðəm) /

  1. a logical arithmetical or computational procedure that if correctly applied ensures the solution of a problem: Compare heuristic

  2. logic maths a recursive procedure whereby an infinite sequence of terms can be generated

Origin of algorithm

C17: changed from algorism, through influence of Greek arithmos number
  • French name: algorism

Derived forms of algorithm

  • algorithmic, adjective
  • algorithmically, adverb

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

Scientific definitions for algorithm


[ ălgə-rĭð′əm ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.