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Data Science Glossary: What is an Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of instructions we give a computer so it can take values and manipulate them into a usable form.

In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation.

Algorithms need to have their steps in the right order. Think about an algorithm for getting dressed in the morning. What if you put on your coat before your jumper? Your jumper would be on top of your coat and that would be silly! When you write an algorithm the order of the instructions is very important.

This can be as easy as finding and removing every comma in a paragraph, or as complex as building an equation that predicts how many home runs a baseball player will hit in 2020.

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