# Computer Science Basics: Algorithms

You may have heard the term Algorithm recently, whether it was online or maybe in some
conversation about technology. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. But what exactly does it mean? Well, simply put an algorithm is a set of steps
used to complete a specific task. They’re the building blocks for programming and they allow things like computers, smartphones, and websites to function and make decisions. But in addition to being used by technology,
a lot of things we do on a daily basis are also similar to algorithms Let’s say you want to make some spaghetti. In order to do this successfully,
there’s a certain set of steps you need to follow in a particular order. First you need to boil a pot of water. Once it’s boiling you then add the spaghetti and cook it for a set amount of time, stirring occasionally. Once it’s finished you drain the water and then it’s ready to be served with a sauce of your choice. That entire process is actually an algorithm. Because you followed those steps in that order, you reached your desired outcome,
a delicious pasta dish. But, if you were to make a mistake,
say over or under cooking your noodles, it probably wouldn’t be as good. Programs work in a similar way. Their code is made up of algorithms telling them what to do. Let’s say that we want to use
a navigation app to get directions. When we punch in a destination, the app uses an algorithm to look at the various available routes. Next, it uses a different algorithm to check the current traffic. And then a third one takes that information and calculates the best available route. All of these algorithms are built
right into the apps code. If there were any kind of error in that code, the app wouldn’t be able to follow these algorithms correctly. Meaning, you wouldn’t receive your directions. Both of these examples show
how both humans and computers can use algorithms to perform everyday tasks. The difference is that computers can use algorithms and calculate things better, faster,
and more efficiently than we can. Technology is only going to continue to evolve and get even better at what it does. As long as coding and
programming continue to be used, algorithms will be at the heart of these technologies guiding what they do and how they do it. GCF global creating opportunities for a better life.