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An algorithm is a self-contained series of instructions to perform a function.

In other words, an algorithm is a means of describing a way to solve a problem so that it can be solved repeatedly, by humans or machines. Computer scientists compare the efficiency of algorithms through the concept of "Algorithmic Complexity" or "Big O" notation.

For example:

  • A cooking recipe is a simple algorithm for humans
  • A sorting algorithm is often used in computer programming to explain a machine how to sort data

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