Algorithm – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

An algorithm is a set of operations and decisions that, based on certain rules, results in a product.

That is, depending on the information and the variables that are introduced in the scheme or formula of the algorithm, it will give one result or another, and some algorithms may have infinite possibilities.

However, the true utility of an algorithm is that the result is as precise and determined as possible, in order to be able to use the product it has generated. These types of operations occur in situations in which the tasks can be programs and the scenarios can be limited to a range of possibilities that the creator of the algorithm knows well.

An example of an algorithm could be the calculation of the price of airline tickets. The airlines on their web pages work with an algorithm that varies the price based on the demand and the dates of the flights. In this way, the rates are automatically adapted according to the needs of the company.

Do you find Economipedia useful?

If you often use our simple definitions, we have good news for you.

Now you can try our courses for free on-line economics, investment and finance at the Economipedia Campus. The section that we have created to help you advance professionally, in an effective and entertaining way.

Characteristics of an algorithm

As mentioned, an algorithm generates a result from a series of operations that is fed with data and scenarios. This result is often the solution to a problem.

See also  Endorse - What it is, definition and concept

To do this, an algorithm must work through three simple parts: an input, a process and an output.


With the entrance, the variables are made known, to what in culinary terms we would say the ingredients. Then, the process refers to the way of treating the data and using it, this could be extrapolated to the way of cooking the ingredients.

Finally, the output would consist of the final result, which, continuing with the same culinary comparison, would be the plating with the product ready to serve the customer.

On the other hand, and given the process and scheme presented, for an algorithm to work properly it must have a limited number of operations, be exact or provide an interval in the final result, and cover all the related scenarios in its range of possibilities. with the problem. If any of these three factors are not present, the algorithm could incur unwanted data input, processing or output errors.

Types of algorithms

In the huge spectrum that covers the different classes of algorithm, they can generally be divided into three main criteria to differentiate them from each other:

  • communication code. In this section, they can be subdivided in 2 ways. On the one hand, we could base ourselves on a verbal (qualitative) environment, and on the other, on a numerical (quantitative) environment.
  • main end. Algorithms can be given mainly for selection purposes (order or catalog according to certain characteristics) or search (a class of desired product).
  • Functioning. Depending on the way in which the results can be found, the algorithms may be generally probabilistic (estimated results), deterministic (finite and exact results), greedy (of several possible results, the one that best matches the possible solution is chosen) or parallel ( provide a result that de-escalates the problem, but does not solve it), among others.

In short, it can be stated that, although those mentioned are the main ways of classifying an algorithm, they are by no means the only ones. The criteria and their subtypes may vary in their general use depending on the object of the algorithm.

Algorithm Usage Examples

It should be noted that an algorithm does not have to be only computational in nature, in fact, although the latter have become better known, they already existed before, without the digital or computational factor.

Then, some of the examples in which the use of algorithms can be found are:

  • At the academic or sports level. In this case it refers to the processes that try to classify and treat potential students or athletes. This is based on the characteristics of each individual, from their mental abilities to their physical ones. The result is therefore different. A poet does not think the same as a mathematician, nor is a striker the same as a goalkeeper. They have gone through different processes and the result is different.
  • In complex environments of software technologies. The most typical example and the one with the most representativeness. Algorithms that use computational technology and big data are the most recurrent.
  • Simple mechanical applications. It ranges from a simple mechanism to turn on and off the light to be able to lift a mechanical bridge over a river. In essence, they are frequently dichotomous.

Leave a Comment