Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A finite set of unambiguous instructions that, given some set of initial conditions, can be performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a certain goal and that has a recognizable set of end conditions.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An erroneous form of algorism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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.
  • noun archaic Calculation with Arabic numerals; algorism.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Variant (probably influenced by arithmetic) of algorism.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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")).

Examples

  • They have very intense and high-level discussions about their work with Dad quite often, and the word algorithm features extremely heavily.

    Confetti Confidential

  • They have very intense and high-level discussions about their work with Dad quite often, and the word algorithm features extremely heavily.

    Confetti Confidential

  • The term algorithm simply means a series of steps.

    the rule of six | clusterflock

  • I wonder if the algorithm is a little “loose” to get as many copies out as possible? — melissa

    When Your Computer Calls You a Nerd: A Guest Post - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com

  • The term algorithm is derived from the name of the Arabic economist, Al-Khowërazmi, who invented them as a way of performing mathematical operations associated with debt and credit.

    _Queen Mab_ as Topological Repertoire

  • At Consumer Reports, we’re increasingly encountering the term algorithm in reference to smart appliances: dryers that know when loads are dry, refrigerators that can self-regulate their temperature, and dishwashers that sense when dishes are done.

    Buzzword: Algorithm

  • At Consumer Reports, we’re increasingly encountering the term algorithm in reference to smart appliances: dryers that know when loads are dry, refrigerators that can self-regulate their temperature, and dishwashers that sense when dishes are done.

    Buzzword: Algorithm

  • An evolutionary algorithm is a program, and like all programs, is independent on the substrate.

    Casey Luskin on Kitzmiller & Information

  • In any case, an evolutionary algorithm is a model of the behavior of generalized replicators.

    Casey Luskin on Kitzmiller & Information

  • In any case, an evolutionary algorithm is a model of the behavior of generalized replicators.

    Casey Luskin on Kitzmiller & Information

Comments

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  • Eponymous and toponymous!

    December 16, 2007

  • 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

  • Did Al Gore invent this, too?

    Maybe it was Gore Vidal?

    July 24, 2011

  • Nice visuals! Good catch, fbharjo!

    July 24, 2011

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

    September 28, 2011

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

    Check out his website.

    September 28, 2011

  • 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

  • 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've been noticing the increased usage of algorithm when referring to Facebook Google Instagram Amazon and other big web sites.
    It's almost like they're describing the personality of the site where the site maximizes ad revenue and games the users into using it more.
    But the rules of the game are hidden in a black box called 'the algorithm'.

    March 31, 2016