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Note: Coded tutorials for Binary and Linear Search provided in the next units.
An algorithm is a sequence of instructions or a set of rules to get something done.
You probably know the fastest route from school to home, for example, turn left, drive for five miles, turn right. You can think of this as an ‘algorithm’ – as a sequence of instructions to get you to your chosen destination. There are plenty of algorithms (i.e. routes) that will accomplish the same goal; in this case, there are even algorithms (such as in your satnav) for working out the shortest or fastest route.
Algorithms are written for a human, rather than for a computer to understand. In this way algorithms differ from programs.
We spend much of our life searching for stuff. Searching is important and we need to know how to get computers to do it efficiently. In this section we'll be looking at two different types of search.