An algorithm is a procedure used for solving a problem or performing a computation.
An algorithm is like a cooking recipe.
In order to complete a recipe to perfection, you must follow a specific set of steps.
Some recipes are more complex than others. Some recipes are proprietary whereas others are more common knowledge.
An algorithms is an exact list of instructions that conduct specific actions, step by step, in order to accomplish a specific task.
It's one thing to know what a term means, but that is worthless if you don't know why you should know what an algorithm is in the first place. Let's break down the importance of this tech term based on two high level categories. We'll walk through an explanation as well as provide a score, 1-10, that shows you how much you should care about algorithms.
The first will be if you do not have a product yet. This means that you don't have a physical product. Maybe you're in the ideation phase, or maybe you're almost ready to start development. Whichever it is, we'll get into why an algorithm is important and why you should or shouldn't care about it if you do not have a product.
An algorithm is only relevant for you to know if your product is dependent on one. So, if you are building a marketplace, for example, then this term isn't as important. If you are building a listings site, then maybe it is more important because the way you list your content can have proprietary value.
The second category is if you do have a live product. Maybe you just launched your business or maybe it's been live for years and you're continuing to improve its quality. Regardless of the scenario, if your product is live, algorithms carries a different weight.
So you know what an algorithm is, by definition. You know if you should care about it or not depending on your situation as a business/company/product. To dig in deeper, we will walk through some examples so we can make sure you really have a solid grasp on algorithms.
We're going to walk through three algorithms that you likely interact with on a daily basis, showing the magnitude of impact algorithms can have.