General Science, Mathematics, and Technology


What is an algorithm?

An algorithm is a set of clearly defined rules and instructions for the solution of a problem. It is not necessarily applied only in computers, but can be a step-by-step procedure for solving any particular kind of problem. A nearly 4,000-year-old Babylonian banking calculation inscribed on a tablet is an algorithm, as is a computer program that consists of step-by-step procedures for solving a problem.

The term is derived from the name of Muhammad ibn Musa al Kharizmi (c. 780–c. 850), a Baghdad mathematician who introduced Hindu numerals (including 0) and decimal calculation to the West. When his treatise was translated into Latin in the twelfth century, the art of computation with Arabic (Hindu) numerals became known as algorism.


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