Buzzword: What is an Algorithm?

Simply put an algorithm is a set of steps that gets you from point A to point B and then to the finish line. A third addition to the Buzzword series, recently, with technology becoming more and more powerful and present in practically every aspect of life. Now, this one doesn’t bother me as much as some others do, however until I started writing this post, I never actually knew what it was, just that is was used in computer coding and people were dropping it in a lot of conversations. So, what is an algorithm and why should you care about it?Algorithms #2Like I said in the first sentence, an algorithm in its simplest form is a series of steps. If this is the case, then we use algorithm’s every day in our lives. Our morning routine to get ready, making a sandwich, driving a car, writing a blog post, everything we do is a process. Sometimes we don’t notice this because these steps become a part of our habits. Now that we have a basic understanding for what an algorithm is, lets go a little deeper.

The most common use for this terminology is in the computer and technology industry. So what does an algorithm do in this context? Well, it is still a series of steps need to be done for a computer program to accomplish a task, turning on, downloading content, posting on Facebook, your Facebook newsfeed is presented to you the way it is because of an algorithm.  Knowing this means you can implement them and make your own programs.

There are different types of algorithms too, Facetime, Skype, Zoom and Google Hangout are some popular real time, virtual video and audio chat forums, in order to transmit audio and video content across the internet from far distances requires what is called a Compression Algorithm. Online Map sites like Google Maps use a Route finding Algorithm, to help get you from your current location to end point, and takes into account traffic and road conditions, timing, and provides gas station information.

Other algorithms include rendering, optimization and scheduling; but these ones are much more complex than the everyday ones that we use to live. But if you look at each one – they are all just a set of steps that have to be done in a specific order, so that one can complete the desired task with the desired result. This is just in the tech world.

In the Biological Science world, scientists have designed and redesigned algorithms, for understanding and reside singing molecular structures for drugs to fight diseases. Is this what your donations to the Cancer Society are going towards? Maybe.

Ever wonder; how the weather channel or app can give you the weather information? Again the answer is algorithms – that track and measure weather patterns. Of in Astronomy analyzing the universe. Google Analytics is a massive algorithm that analysis data on websites.

Now, this is where the buzzword comes in; algorithms have become so popular that people are now talking about them in ways of living and relationships. Which I think is great – but. Algorithms are so technical, I feel like they make living and love sound like a mathematical equation. Which maybe it is but I am a hopeless romantic and I’d like to believe that not everything is calculated and analyzed in life.

With all this basic knowledge of algorithms, I still respect and agree that computer science is a very interesting and intellectual profession, and I do not mean to take away some of the difficulty that computer programming is. But I feel that in order to appreciate what computer programming and sciences, we should all have a basic understanding of what they are doing and how advanced it becomes. Algorithms are everywhere, but the word is everywhere too. Having an understanding something so essential and critical in our world is important.

I hope this blog post what informative and I would love to hear more information about computer science. Share, Comment, Like! Spread the world about the importance of algorithms.

By: Emma Edwards

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