Wikipedia:Today's featured article/July 20, 2004

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An algorithm is a set of instructions for accomplishing some task which, given a defined set of inputs, will result in some recognisable end-state (contrast with heuristic). The concept of an algorithm is often illustrated by the example of a recipe, although many algorithms are much more complex; algorithms often have steps that repeat (iterate) or require decisions (such as logic or comparison) until the task is completed. Different algorithms may complete the same task with a different set of instructions in more or less time, space, or effort than others. Algorithms are sometimes implemented as computer programs but are more often implemented by other means, such as in a biological neural network (for example, the human brain implementing arithmetic or an insect relocating food), or in electric circuits or in a mechanical device. (more...)

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