Basic Computing

What is an algorithm in programming? Details

All programs and applications that we know, as well as the use of computers in general, require an algorithm. Do you want to know what an algorithm is in programming? , in this article you will find out. What is an algorithm in programming

What is an algorithm in programming?

What is an algorithm in programming
What is an algorithm in programming

In general, an algorithm is a detailed procedure that is performed to solve a problem within a period of time. The informal type are normally used by men in their daily life.

For its part, a computational algorithm is a term frequently used in computer programming . It starts from an initial state towards a final state, which contains the solution of a problem. This final result is reached by following successive and well-defined steps. Its execution requires the use of computers.

features What is an algorithm in programming

  • It tries to offer the simplest possible solution to a problem, regardless of its level of complexity.
  • It is precise, it requires the development of steps in a logical and strict order.
  • To guarantee its functionality at the time of execution, it must be well defined.
  • As long as the data entered is the same, the result will be the same.
  • The number of built-in steps is finite, ensuring that the logarithm has an ending.
  • It must be understandable to anyone who has access to it.
  • Modifications may be required after testing, and prior to execution.
  • Given the impossibility of being executed directly, they require that their transcription be adequate to the syntactic rules of programming languages.
  • It needs the compilation to detect the errors and failures that could be committed during its creation.

Stages of development What is an algorithm in programming

What is an algorithm in programming
What is an algorithm in programming

The conception of an algorithm includes four stages:

Definition: The problem and the objective to be achieved are defined.

Analysis: The problem and its characteristics are studied. The logical path to follow to resolve it is established.

Design: The problem is represented by the existing forms of expression.

Implementation: The algorithm is specified, including testing before its execution.

Basic structure

An algorithm must comply with a scheme, such that we can represent in a simplified way the idea on which we are based to carry it out. Thus, we can define three types of structure:

Sequence of actions: It refers to the planning of actions, which also indicates the sequence in the order of execution of the instructions.

Decision of action: It is about choosing the best alternative between several logical paths, which constitute different scenarios within the creation of the algorithm. This depends on the variable in question.

Cycles of actions: Through this type of structure it is possible to repeat one or more actions within the order of the algorithm. Each block of instructions that make up the cycles must establish a beginning and an end.

Description levels

For an algorithm to be implemented, it must first be described. There are the following levels of description:

High level: Refers to the initial description of the problem. A mathematical model is created, usually including illustrations, and explained verbally.

Formal: It is about describing the sequence, through the use of a pseudocode, of all the steps to be followed.

Implementation: The algorithm is displayed in a given programming language.

Forms of expression

Algorithms can be represented in various ways, depending on their level of description. These are:

Natural language: It is the most common way of transmitting ideas, but it usually causes confusion in people who are not experts in programming.

Pseudocode: It facilitates the translation of the algorithm to any programming language, due to the similarities it has with respect to the syntax of programming languages.

Flow diagram: Thanks to its graphical way of representing the operations within the algorithm, it facilitates the understanding of the sequences.

Program: Its main disadvantage is that its reading is difficult for almost anyone to understand, especially if you do not have programming knowledge.

Frequent mistakes

Mainly, there are three types of errors related to the design, development and execution of an algorithm. These are:

Syntax errors: These refer to the omission of some syntactic rule of the programming language used, among them: spelling errors and mistakes in the use of parentheses, brackets and braces.

Precautionary errors: These are recommendations given by program compilers, in order to improve the design of the algorithm.

Logical errors: Generally, they are due to a bad analysis and an erroneous statement of the problem, and not to syntax errors during the development of the algorithm. They are not detected by compilers, which warrants manual identification by the designer.


There are countless examples with which to illustrate what an algorithm is in programming . However, we will show you one of great importance:

Algorithm for creating algorithms


  1. Identify the problem
  2. Select an alternative solution
  3. Establish the steps to follow
  4. Test the algorithm
  5. If errors are detected

Correct and return to step 4

  1. If the operation is correct

Finish the algorithm

If not – go back to step 2


General recommendations

The most important condition to create a good algorithm is to identify the problem we want to solve, and establish the best way to reach the solution.

We must bear in mind that if we are faithful to follow the steps, the algorithm will always work.

We must always test the algorithm before executing it, because in this way we would be guaranteeing that the objective for which it was created is really being met and we will obtain the optimization we are looking for.

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