is a systematic step-by-step process which leads to a conclusion.
Here is an example:
To find the highest common factor of 24 and 60. First express
each as a product of prime numbers 24 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 and
60 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 5. Next pick out the prime factors common
to both. Then multiply these common prime factors together.
2 x 2 x 3 = 12.
In mathematics, computing, linguistics and related subjects, an
algorithm is a sequence of finite instructions, often used for calculation
and data processing. It is formally a type of effective method in
which a list of well-defined instructions for completing a task
will, when given an initial state, proceed through a well-defined
series of successive states, eventually terminating in an end-state.
The transition from one state to the next is not necessarily deterministic;
some algorithms, known as probabilistic algorithms, incorporate
An informal definition could be an algorithm is a computer
program that calculates something. For some people, a program
is only an algorithm if it stops eventually. For others, a
program is only an algorithm if it stops before a given number
of calculation steps.
prototypical example of an algorithm is Euclid's algorithm
to determine the maximum common divisor of two integers greater
than one: subtract the smallest number from the biggest one,
repeat until you get a zero or a one. This procedure is known
to stop always, and the number of subtractions needed is always
smaller than the biggest of the two numbers.