What is the Role of an Algorithm in Computer Programming by Dr Pandula Siribaddana | Inside Technology 360

Algorithm is a term used to describe a process which executes in a pre-defined manner to achieve a known end-point. In most instances, such processes are short, simple and repetitive, although there are instances, especially in computer programming, where the tasks carried out by an algorithm is either complex or non-repetitive.In order to understand the functioning of an algorithm, let us consider an everyday example.If someone needs to travel 3 km each day from home to the office, there may be more than one method of travelling. One option may be to walk from home to the bus stop and take the bus to the office. The second option may be to take a taxi from home to the workplace. A third option may be to cycle 3 km from home to the office. Although these methods achieve the same outcome by beginning and ending at pre-determined positions, the methods used to arrive at the end-point are very different.Although taking the bus may be the cheapest way to travel, it may be rather slow compared to other methods. Taking the taxi, on the other hand, will be the costliest method, although it may be the fastest mode of travel. Cycling being the healthiest option would be the slowest and probably the most tiresome.As you can see, there can be more than one method of achieving the same goal although each method would be executed differently and therefore would have its own pros and cons.In computer programming, similar concepts have to be developed and implemented in order to process data, and in most instances the term algorithm is reserved to describe the simplest and the most efficient instructional sequence achieving the intended result. In general, algorithm would be part of the computer programme which itself would be a sequence of instructional events. However, the term algorithm is not used for describing the whole programme, but is reserved to describe only a portion of the sequence with the characteristics described previously.What is the use of having algorithms within the computer programme?When the correct algorithm is used to solve a problem, it would be the most efficient way of dealing with the situation. In a computer system, this means efficient use of memory, hard disk space and processor power, as well as other resources. However, if the wrong algorithm is being used, the outcome can be far from efficient.Furthermore, being a pre-defined and simple task, use of an algorithm may be far easier than to develop coding repeatedly. It eases the task of the programmers and makes the programme appear readable and less complex.At the same time, algorithms will have the capacity to function as a linear instructional set, or simultaneously as parallel sets of instructions in instances where the computer runs parallel processors.In addition to these uses, there are many other advantages in using the same and it is up to the programmers to determine which algorithm is suited best for the intended purpose.

taken from What is the Role of an Algorithm in Computer Programming by Dr Pandula Siribaddana | Inside Technology 360.

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