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What is Algorithm? Simple Explanation for Beginners

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15th Oct, 2022
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What is Algorithm? Simple Explanation for Beginners

An algorithm is a series of statements instructing a computer on what action to do next. Like algebra, it starts quite simple but expands to an indefinitely complicated form. People use algorithms as shorthand when instructing machines to perform complex data processing and complex calculations. 

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Algorithms, like lines of code, become more reliable when connected. To create AI systems like neural networks, they are merged. Algorithms help expedite data processing by instructing computers to find answers and swiftly complete tasks.

For instance, if you need to search through a million documents for the word ‘Red’, you would need to sort nonstop for more than two weeks without taking breaks. However, with sufficient processing power and the right algorithmic tuning, your machine can easily detect the word within seconds.

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Why do we need Algorithms?

Today’s world relies heavily on algorithms. We can now automate many jobs people have had to perform on their own for thousands of years following monotonous, time-consuming methods. Additionally, algorithms contribute to the complex calculations that have produced some of the greatest advancements in science, engineering, and other fields. Technological advancements would not have been possible without algorithmic assistance. 

How are algorithms created?

Common languages, computer languages, flowcharts, code generators, and control tables can all be used to express algorithms. Expressions in natural languages are uncommon because they are more obscure. A computer’s algorithms are typically expressed in programming languages.

Algorithms use initial inputs and a list of structured instructions. The input, which can be expressed as either words or numbers, is the first batch of information required to make judgments. The input data is subjected to a series of instructions or calculations, which may include mathematical operations and judgment calls. The final step of algorithm is called the output, and it is typically expressed as additional data.

For instance, a search algorithm might receive a keyword search as input and process it between a series of directives to search the database for results that match the query. As automation adheres to a set of regulations to execute tasks, automation software serves as another illustration of an algorithm. Automation software comprises numerous algorithms that function to automate specific activities.

Different types of Algorithms

Algorithms come in various forms, each intended to carry out a particular task. Here are the different types of algorithms mentioned below:

Search Engine Algorithm:

Such algorithms accept keyword and operator search strings as input, browse its related database for pertinent URLs, and then output results.

Encryption Algorithm:

This algorithm alters data to safeguard it according to predetermined actions. The encryption algorithm, for instance, employs a symmetric key technique that encrypts and decrypts data using the same key. No one without ethical access to the key can interpret the data if the algorithm is complex enough.

Greedy Algorithm:

This algorithm attempts to locate the globally optimal solution to optimization issues by seeking locally optimal solutions. However, the algorithm does not ensure the best outcome.

Recursive Algorithm:

The algorithm keeps calling itself until an issue is resolved. A recursive algorithm calls itself with a reduced value each time when a recursive function is called.

Backtracking Algorithm:

The algorithm addresses a given problem piecemeal, coming up with incremental solutions as it goes.

Divide-and-conquer Algorithm:

This typical algorithm is split into two sections, separating the issue into compact subproblems in one segment. The second section fixes these issues before putting them all together to create solutions.

Dynamic Programming Algorithm:

By breaking down difficulties into smaller ones, this program finds solutions. The outcomes are then saved for use in solving related challenges in the future.

Brute-force Algorithm:

This method searches for one or several other approaches to a function by iterating through all potential solutions to a problem.

Sorting Algorithm:

Sorting algorithms are often used to change the order of data in a data structure formed on a comparison operator.

Hashing Algorithm:

The algorithm takes data and hashes it to create a uniform message.

Randomized Algorithm:

This algorithm lowers operating time and time-based complexities. Its reasoning is based in part on random elements.

How does an Algorithm help in solving problems in various fields?

Algorithms are capable of resolving numerous problems related to data processing and calculations in AI or ML. Here is an in-depth look at such extensive categories to determine how the advantage might manifest.


Utilizing an artificial intelligence algorithm has the clear benefit of making it simpler to sift through vast amounts of data quickly. Medical experts can sort through vast volumes of data using specialized software to discover correlations that frequently result in cures, the creation of life-saving technologies, the incorporation of vaccines, and more.

Public Safety:

Within our traffic grid, AI algorithms have another intriguing application. You’ll understand how this kind of programming is used if you’ve ever wondered how a red light learns to change based on the flow of traffic or how some major cities may automatically modify traffic based on emergencies.

Global Warming:

AI plays a significant role in predicting the future. Scientists can ascertain what is causing the shift in our climate and potential remedies for improvement using sophisticated instruments and data collection methods.


Artificial intelligence algorithms are being used frequently in communication, making it easier than ever to connect with one another, from how we access the internet to how we can make calls using a smartphone.

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Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What is an algorithm, and why is it important?

An algorithm is a series of steps to carry out a certain activity in a machine. They serve as the foundation for programming and enable the operation and decision-making of devices like computers, cellphones, and web pages. For example, searching for an input query is processed by strong algorithms to accomplish the task within seconds.

2What exactly is an AI algorithm?

An AI algorithm is essentially an expanded subset of machine learning that instructs the computer on how to learn to function independently. In turn, the machine keeps learning to enhance procedures and carry out duties more effectively.

3What does data science mean by an algorithm?

An algorithm is a programming procedure or set of instructions to accomplish a specific objective. A characteristic of an algorithm is its execution time, either in terms of space or time. In order to improve our workflow, as data scientists, we are interested in the most effective algorithm.

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