Algorithm Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Do you know the meaning of algorithm? Or how it’s used in a sentence? Not to worry — this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

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You may remember your math teacher from grade school asking for an answer to a question using a specific algorithm, but do you know what the word algorithm means? We’ll tell you!

In this guide, we explore the term algorithm to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, antonyms, and more.  

What Is the Definition of Algorithm?

Cambridge Dictionary defines algorithm as a set of mathematical rules or instructions that will help to obtain the answer to a problem (especially used in computing). One example is music apps like Pandora and Spotify use algorithms to predict the next song played based on past songs played and artists you may have liked or disliked along the way. 

Basically, an algorithm is a set of step-by-step procedures that will solve a particular problem or task if followed correctly. We encounter algorithms every day, and we may not even notice them. From the recipe you used to bake your favorite cake last week to the everyday use of Google and other search engines, these are all algorithms (or examples of them).

What Are the Types of Algorithms?

Since algorithms are a set of rules used to solve a task or issue, there are many types of algorithms — with the most common type being computer science algorithms. 

In computer science, a coder creates a set of codes that artificial intelligence (or a computer) uses to solve problems. Below, we have compiled a shortlist of the different types of computer science algorithms.

Study these to help you get better acquainted with all the varying types of algorithms you may encounter:

  • Backtracking algorithms 
  • Divide and conquer algorithms 
  • Recursive algorithms
  • Dynamic programming algorithms 
  • Greedy algorithms
  • Brute force algorithms
  • Randomized algorithms

What Is the Etymology of Algorithm?

Do you remember the childhood game “telephone?” Well, the etymology behind our word of the day is best described as a game of telephone gone poorly.

The origin of algorithm begins in the ninth century when a Persian mathematician at the Royal Court in Baghdad named Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi wrote about calculations and Hindu-Arabic numerals. Later his work was translated into Latin — and with this, the game is afoot.

As Al-Khwarizmi’s work was translated into Latin, his name was then integrated into the process he wrote, forming the Medieval Latin algorismus. From there Al-Khwārizmī’s name was Latinized as Algoritmi. This Latinized name of the this Persian mathematician is where the game of telephone starts to get a little off track, so to speak. 

The name algoritmi was mixed up with the Ancient Greek word for numbers, arithmos. Over time this confusion led to the evolution of the word algorithm as we currently use it today.

Through the mistaken connection with Greek arithmos, the Old French word for the Arabic numeral system (algorisme) was refashioned into the French algorithme. You may have guessed that the word, algorithm, is a derivative of the French algorithme

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Algorithm?

By now, you know that the word algorithm refers to a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps. To further your overall understanding of the term, we’ve compiled a list of synonyms and antonyms for you to review.

Here are a few synonyms provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • Computation
  • Method
  • Set of rules
  • Algorithmic program
  • System
  • Script
  • Computer program
  • Subroutine
  • Mathematical problem
  • Process 
  • Algorithmic rule
  • Algorithm
  • Form
  • Set of instructions
  • Discovery
  • Calculation
  • Functions 

The antonyms of algorithm include:

  • Misconception
  • Yang
  • Yin
  • Loss
  • Miss

How Can You Use Algorithm in a Sentence?

One of the top ways we can commit new knowledge to memory is by using it in everyday communication. From text messages with friends to written papers for work, test your new knowledge and push yourself by incorporating algorithm into sentences today. 

Below you will find a few example sentences to help get you started:

Mark, we are not looking for you to employ heuristics with this. What we need is an algorithm in place to get this done correctly the first time.

What algorithm did you use to answer question 14 on the quiz in computer science?

If you like learning computer algorithms, you may want to consider a career in IT.

The standard algorithm for subdivision can be found in your textbook on page 68.

We had to provide an example of an algorithm before leaving class today.

Today, we learned about the Euclidean algorithm and how it is used to find the greatest common divisor.

The tech company uses machine learning algorithms to recommend open positions to those looking for a good job.


In short, an algorithm will always include a finite set of steps that you can use to solve any problem. From simple division to the step-by-step method of how to solve a Rubix cube, varying algorithms are around us at all times. 


  1. Algorithm | Cambridge English Dictionary 
  2. Algorithm synonyms 172 Words and Phrases for Algorithm | Power Thesaurus
  3. Algorithm definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary