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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A step-by-step problem-solving procedure, especially an established, recursive computational procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A precise step-by-step plan for a computational procedure that possibly begins with an input value and yields an output value in a finite number of steps.
  • n. Calculation with Arabic numerals; algorism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem; a set of procedures guaranteed to find the solution to a problem.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An erroneous form of algorism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem


Variant (probably influenced by arithmetic) of algorism.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French algorithme; from the Old French algorisme ("the Arabic numeral system"), a modification likely due to a mistaken connection with Ancient Greek ἀριθμός (arithmos); from Medieval Latin algorismus, a transliteration of Arabicized form of the name of the Persian mathematician al-Khwārizmī (الخوارزمي ("native of Khwarezm")). (Wiktionary)



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  • Named after the Persian mathematician Muhammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (c. 780-c. 850), referred to in Latin texts as Algoritmi or Algaurizin (acc. to Wikipedia). The "al-Khwarizmi" part of his name, which gave us the word "algorism", which then became "algorithm", means "from Khwarezm", a medieval country in Central Asia that was also known as Chorasmia. Hence, our word is both eponymous and toponymous.

    May 23, 2015

  • I never would have guessed this word was referring to a precise set of rules. It sounded to me like a word that meant theory.

    October 5, 2011

  • This word applies to Gladwell's book called Outliers.

    Check out his website.

    September 28, 2011

  • I stumble to this word when reading the book, Outliers. I found it interesting and new to me!

    September 28, 2011

  • Nice visuals! Good catch, fbharjo!

    July 24, 2011

  • Did Al Gore invent this, too?
    Maybe it was Gore Vidal?

    July 24, 2011

  • Citation: 'algorithm' used as a verb

    “Google’s culture is very much based on the power of the algorithm, and it’s very difficult to algorithm social interaction,” Ms. Li said. [Comments attributed to "Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, a technology research and advisory firm" in Oct. 17th, 2010 New York Times article, "Determined to Crack the Social Code" by Claire Cain Miller.

    October 18, 2010

  • Eponymous and toponymous!

    December 16, 2007