What is an algorithm? Why are algorithms important in computer programming? To answer these questions, let’s start by looking at these two analogies.
You are planning to build a big house but at the same time, you are not sure whether the resources that you have are enough. What will you do? You will define a work plan that will ensure you spend the little resources available at your disposal to finish the building. Secondly, you are planning to travel several miles away but there is very little time available. It is quite obvious that you will get the shortest or fastest route that will get you to your destination.
Importance of Algorithms
When it comes to computer programming, algorithms work in a similar manner. In layman’s language, an algorithm can be defined as a step-by-step procedure for accomplishing a task. In the world of programming, an algorithm is a well-structured computational procedure that takes some values as input and some values as output.
Algorithms give us the most ideal option for accomplishing a task. Here is some importance of algorithms in computer programming.
1. To improve the efficiency of a computer program
In programming, there are different ways of solving a problem. However, the efficiency of the methods available varies. Some methods are well suited to give more accurate answers than others. Algorithms are used to find the best possible way of solving a problem. In doing so they improve the efficiency of a program.
When it comes to programming, efficiency can be used to mean different things. One of them is the accuracy of the software. With the best algorithm, a computer program will be able to produce very accurate results.
Another way of looking at the efficiency of the software is speed. An algorithm can be used to improve the speed at which a program executes a problem. A single algorithm has the potential of reducing the time that a program takes to solve a problem.
2. Proper utilization of resources
A typical computer has different resources. One of them is computer memory. During the execution phase, a computer program will require some amount of memory. Some programs use more memory space than others. The usage of computer memory depends on the algorithm that has been used.
The right choice of algorithm will ensure that a program consumes the least amount of memory. Apart from memory, the algorithm can determine the amount of processing power that is needed by a program.
Given that we have mentioned the impact of an algorithm on resources, it will be imperative to look at the cost. This is because each resource comes with a price tag. You can decide to use an algorithm that will use the least resources. The leaner the resources, the less the cost.
Types of Algorithms
To give you a better picture, here are the most common type of algorithms:
- Searching algorithms
- Pathfinding algorithm
- Sorting algorithms
- Compression algorithms
- Tree and graph-based algorithms
- Pattern matching algorithm among many others
Different algorithms play different roles in programming. You only need to define your problem and then select the right algorithm to use.