What is an algorithm?
An algorithm is a set of step-by-step instructions used to solve a problem. They are used by both human beings and computers.
Algorithms for Humans
Common examples of algorithms for humans include:
Algorithms for Computers
Computers require algorithms to function and these usually come in the form of software. Computers differ from humans in that the instructions provided must completely unambiguous – they must be clear and not open to interpretation.
Algorithms for computers include:
- Software program instructions
- Device handling instructions
- Data storage instructions
Activity 1 – Alien shopping algorithm
An alien has landed on earth and you have decided to send him on an important mission – to do your weekly shopping down at the supermarket! You have been given a shopping list. The alien has never been shopping before – can you write a set of instructions for it to do the shopping for you?
Your algorithm must be:
- Unambiguous – Each step must be completely clear and specific.