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Notes > Computation and Algorithms Introduction

Computer Science can be described as a discipline that includes the study of computable problems and processes. Computation is the process of calculating. Computability refers to whether or not the problem can be solved algorithmically.

An algorithm is a set of unambiguous computational procedures or steps that produce an output given an input. Implementing an algorithm means transforming the set of steps specified in the algorithm into a computer program. Algorithms can be used to search, sort, and select data. Data structures such as stacks, queues, arrays, and trees can all have algorithms applied to them.

The study and analysis of algorithms is important as algorithms play a large role in solving real world problems particularly in business and other sectors where computing has had a large impact. Different algorithms that accomplish the same task can vary in their efficiency. This may not be important when used on a small scale but when applied to large-scale problems, efficiency becomes ever more important.

Algorithm analysis involves measuring how long an algorithm will take to reach a result and terminate. This may be measured by comparison with other algorithms or it can be measured by determining of what "order" the algorithm is. For more information see Program Complexity.

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