What is an algorithm? An algorithm is a set of instructions. You follow these instructions when solving a particular problem. Steps within an algorithm are in order for a reason. You must follow the series of instructions or list of rules to complete a desired task. If you skip a step, your end result won’t be the one you desire.

You use algorithms when you follow a recipe to bake a cake or do a load of laundry. You don’t put the soap in the dryer, now do you? Instead, you follow a series of steps or a set of instructions until you complete the task.

You also use algorithms in math and computers. Sure, they’re a bit more complicated than washing your clothes. But they carry you through a series of steps and lead you to an end result.

So, what is algorithm design and what’s important about designing algorithms? This article digs into the algorithm definition in computer science. Read on to find out **what is algorithm** design and how to design algorithms.

## Algorithm Basics

There are many different types of algorithms. But at their core, they are all the same. Even in computer programming and science.

The algorithm definition computer science states that an algorithm is a list or set of rules used to perform tasks or solve problems. It has the same meaning in CS that it does in the kitchen while baking a cake. You’re given a set of variables and a list of steps. It’s up to you to follow them.

## Types of Algorithms

Now that we’ve answered the question: What is an algorithm in computer science? Let’s look at the different algorithm types.

### Brute force algorithms

These are computer algorithms that try all possible solutions until you find the right one. Algorithms work by computing and problem solving. Because of the way they work, this algorithm is widely used.

### Divide and conquer algorithms

This algorithm divides the problem into smaller problems (subproblems) of the same type. You then solve the smaller problems and combine the solutions to solve the original problem.

### Dynamic programming algorithms

This is a lot like the algorithm that divides and conquers. It breaks a complex problem into a series of smaller subproblems. Then it solves each of the subproblems once. It stores the solutions for future use.

### Greedy algorithms

Greedy algorithms are used to find the best solution at the local level, but with the intent on locating a solution for the entire problem. Of the many algorithms out there, this one is good for solving optimization issues.

### Randomized algorithms

A good example of an algorithm that uses random numbers for computation problems is randomized algorithms. They use random numbers once to find a viable solution.

### Recursive algorithms

You use a recursive algorithm to solve the simplest version of a problem to then solve more complicated versions of the problem. You do this until you find a solution for the original problem.

### Search algorithms

A search algorithm solves a search problem. It retrieves stored information within a particular data structure. It locates where it is stored.

### Sorting algorithms

You use sorting algorithms to rearrange a well defined list of elements into an order. Quicksort is one of the most efficient algorithms of this kind.

## Algorithm Design Techniques

Now that you know what is a computer algorithm, you should learn about the algorithm design definition. Because you use algorithm design when you solve problems.

Algorithm design refers to a method or process of solving a problem. It is the design of algorithms that is part of many solution theories. In short, your design is what you use to solve the problem. Algorithms get you to the solution you desire.

Your design techniques are the algorithms you use. They can be any of the different types of algorithms, from sorting to dynamic programming.

### Algorithms Design and Analysis

Algorithms are a set of rules or instructions needed to complete a task. Long before the computer age, people established set routines for how to carry out their daily tasks. People listed the steps needed to accomplish a goal. Lists help you reduce the risk of forgetting something important.

Designers take a similar approach to the development of algorithms for computational purposes. They first look at a problem. Next, they outline the steps required to resolve it. They develop a series of mathematical operations to accomplish those steps. You call this development algorithm design.

### When to Use Algorithm Design

You use algorithms when you want to solve problems. Developers use them in programming languages and machines. Machines, such as a search engine, use search algorithms to find information. The point is you use algorithm design to solve a problem.

Other uses include:

- Automate reasoning through a finite number of steps
- Computer program storage issues
- Data processing
- Find a solution

## Jobs in Computers that Use Algorithms

You now understand **what is algorithm** in computer science. You’ve also learned how it’s used. But did you know different jobs use algorithms? Below are some of the occupations where you use algorithms on the job.

### Computer Design Engineers

When you conduct engineering tasks in a programming language you use algorithms. Computer engineers receive a list of instructions so they can find a solution to a primary problem. They use algorithm designs to solve the problem.

### Data Scientists

With the large number of data science algorithms available, it’s no wonder that data scientists use them to do their job. They use algorithms to solve the following kinds of problems:

- Classification problems
- Regression problems

Since the job entails working with data structures, you should have experience with useful algorithms.

### Machine Learning Developers

This field uses algorithms. Developers examine huge data sets and find patterns within that data. They make predictions based on the patterns they find. All of this is possible because of algorithms.

## Efficiency in Solving Complex Problems

You can use algorithms to complete the simplest of tasks. But you can also use them to solve complex problems. For centuries, mathematicians have solved complicated problems using algorithms. But they did the work with no computers.

Time’s have changed.

Computer scientists and developers have it easier today thanks to modern computers. From cyber security to big data, solving problems using algorithms is easier with the use of computers. Computers make finding a solution more efficient. Instead of sorting through large sets of data by hand, a computer processes the information within seconds.

## Algorithm Engineering

Algorithm engineering is a field of engineering that focuses on:

- Analysis
- Design
- Implementation
- Optimization
- Profiling

Algorithm engineers work for large employers, such as Amazon and Google. These companies create specialized algorithms. They come up with specialized ways of collecting data.

Some companies refer to their algorithm engineers as algorithm developers. Their job is to design and integrate algorithms to find solutions to problems. Developers also use algorithms to extrapolate data. They then use the new algorithm created to install in software or in the computer environment.

### Education and Skills for Algorithm Engineers

To become an algorithm engineer or developer, you should first earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A four-year degree is the foundation you need to get your foot in the door. To advance, you need more training and experience.

Some aspiring algorithm engineers earn a master’s degree in a related field. Popular graduate degrees include:

- Computer technology or science
- Information technology
- Software development
- Software engineering

Because algorithm engineers use specialized skills to find solutions in data sets, you need training. To qualify for a job as an algorithm engineer, you need the following skills.

#### Advanced coding skills

You need the ability to code algorithms to assess data sets. It is helpful to know different languages in computers like C++ and Python.

#### Algorithm deployment skills

Since the job includes creating and implementing algorithms to solve problems that improve AI functionality, you need strong algorithm development skills.

#### Analytical skills

The word algorithm means process. To process, you must be analytical. It should come as no surprise that you need strong analytical skills to work as an algorithm engineer. Your work includes creating an algorithm that will comb through data sets. Your job is to solve problems with the algorithms you create. To do this, you must be analytical.

#### Communication skills

Good communication and reporting skills are a must when working as an algorithm engineer. In this role, you provide real-time algorithm results to company administration and executives. You should know how to speak clearly, sharing complex information to a wide audience.

#### Signal processing skills

Signal processing skills help you analyze and synthesize signals. These skills also help improve efficiency of data quality. You use your processing skills to help improve storage and transmissions. You need these skills to succeed on the job.

#### Team management skills

Most algorithm design work is team-oriented. It takes a village, they say. And this is no different when working with algorithms. You should be able to assist other algorithm engineers and help team members fulfill their project schedules.

Now that you know what skills and education you need to work with algorithms, are you ready to take the plunge?

CSDH Staff

November 2022

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