a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor.

1890–95; variant of algorism, by association with Greek arithmós number. See arithmetic

algorithmic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
algorithm (ˈælɡəˌrɪðəm)
1.  Compare heuristic a logical arithmetical or computational procedure that if correctly applied ensures the solution of a problem
2.  logic, maths a recursive procedure whereby an infinite sequence of terms can be generated
[C17: changed from algorism, through influence of Greek arithmos number]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1690s, from Fr. algorithme, refashioned (under mistaken connection with Gk. arithmos "number") from O.Fr. algorisme "the Arabic numeral system," from M.L. algorismus, a mangled transliteration of Arabic al-Khwarizmi "native of Khwarazm," surname of the mathematician whose works introduced sophisticated
mathematics to the West (see algebra). The earlier form in M.E. was algorism (early 13c.), from O.Fr. Modern use of algorithmic to describe symbolic rules or language is from 1881.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

algorithm al·go·rithm (āl'gə-rĭð'əm)
A step-by-step protocol, as for management of health care problems.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
algorithm   (āl'gə-rĭ'əm)  Pronunciation Key 
A finite set of unambiguous instructions performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a goal, especially a mathematical rule or procedure used to compute a desired result. Algorithms are the basis for most computer programming.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
algorithm [(al-guh-rith-uhm)]

A set of instructions for solving a problem, especially on a computer. An algorithm for finding your total grocery bill, for example, would direct you to add up the costs of individual items to find the total.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Computing Dictionary

algorithm definition

algorithm, programming
A detailed sequence of actions to perform to accomplish some task. Named after the Iranian, Islamic mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and geographer, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.
Technically, an algorithm must reach a result after a finite number of steps, thus ruling out brute force search methods for certain problems, though some might claim that brute force search was also a valid (generic) algorithm. The term is also used loosely for any sequence of actions (which may or may not terminate).
Paul E. Black's Dictionary of Algorithms, Data Structures, and Problems (
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
The company uses an algorithm to figure out how long it will take for any
  order, at any time of day, at any restaurant.
As their name implies, genetic algorithms employ trial-and-error to mimic the
  way natural selection works in the living world.
Meanwhile, these algorithms tend to see the market from a machine's point of
  view, which can be very different from a human's.
The decision to surface is made by an algorithm that depends on a mathematical
  function called a wavelet.
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