An algorithm can be defined as a step by step procedure or set of rules for solving a specific problem or performing a certain task.
It is a sequence of well defined and unambiguous instructions that dictates the execution of a task, often within finite time.
Algorithms are used across different fields such as computer science, mathematics and everyday problems.
Characteristics of Algorithms:
- Input: An algorithm takes zero or more inputs.
- Output: An algorithm produces at least one output.
- Definiteness: Each step is described exactly with no ambiguity.
- Finiteness: After some steps, the algorithms should end.
- Effectiveness: A basic operation must be available to achieve every step of an algorithm.
Need for Algorithms:
1. Problem Solving: They give a systematic approach in solving problems through breaking them into smaller pieces which make it easier to handle.
2. Efficiency: They assist in optimization processes; the best solution for a problem can be found and implemented by following specified instructions.
3. Repeatability: These allow executing tasks over and over again with consistency hence same input shall produce same output out of them.
4. Clarity and Precision: These provide accurate details on how to solve any problem with regards to computers programming or human communication process.
5. Abstraction: These focus on the logical steps required to reach a goal hence abstracting implementation details, thus separating concerns to facilitate understanding and modification without changing the overall solution
6. Automation : In computer science algorithms come in handy when automating tasks assuming that they are fundamental building blocks for writing programs that have ability to undertake complicated operations.
7. Analysis of Problems : Sometimes, it is useful to analyze a problem using algorithms before attempting to solve it .Such analysis aids in understanding what exactly entails a given issue and selecting most suitable plan of action.
8. Standardization : They offer standardized ways through which all problems can be solved once an effective algorithm has been developed, and it can be reused and applied to similar problems ensuring consistency and efficiency.
9. Decision Making: They guide decisions that are based on pre-defined criteria during decision making processes.
Three benefits of algorithms:
- Complexity in a simple step-by-step manner.
- This allows for quicker computations and resource optimization.
2. Consistency and Accuracy:
- It provides a universal solution to a problem.
- Thus, the same input would always yield the same output.
3. Abstraction and Modularity:
- It concentrates on logical steps by abstracting from specific implementation details.
- Modular design is enhanced which improves code readability, maintainability, and reusability.