In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a self-contained sequence of actions to be performed. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing and automated reasoning tasks, an algorithm is an effective method that can be expressed within a finite amount of space and time and in a well-defined formal language for calculating a function. The transition from one state to the next is not necessarily deterministic, some algorithms, known as randomized algorithms, giving a formal definition of algorithms, corresponding to the intuitive notion, remains a challenging problem. In English, it was first used in about 1230 and then by Chaucer in 1391, English adopted the French term, but it wasnt until the late 19th century that algorithm took on the meaning that it has in modern English. Another early use of the word is from 1240, in a manual titled Carmen de Algorismo composed by Alexandre de Villedieu and it begins thus, Haec algorismus ars praesens dicitur, in qua / Talibus Indorum fruimur bis quinque figuris. Which translates as, Algorism is the art by which at present we use those Indian figures, the poem is a few hundred lines long and summarizes the art of calculating with the new style of Indian dice, or Talibus Indorum, or Hindu numerals. An informal definition could be a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations, which would include all computer programs, including programs that do not perform numeric calculations. Generally, a program is only an algorithm if it stops eventually, but humans can do something equally useful, in the case of certain enumerably infinite sets, They can give explicit instructions for determining the nth member of the set, for arbitrary finite n. An enumerably infinite set is one whose elements can be put into one-to-one correspondence with the integers, the concept of algorithm is also used to define the notion of decidability. That notion is central for explaining how formal systems come into being starting from a set of axioms. In logic, the time that an algorithm requires to complete cannot be measured, from such uncertainties, that characterize ongoing work, stems the unavailability of a definition of algorithm that suits both concrete and abstract usage of the term. Algorithms are essential to the way computers process data, thus, an algorithm can be considered to be any sequence of operations that can be simulated by a Turing-complete system. Although this may seem extreme, the arguments, in its favor are hard to refute. Gurevich. Turings informal argument in favor of his thesis justifies a stronger thesis, according to Savage, an algorithm is a computational process defined by a Turing machine. Typically, when an algorithm is associated with processing information, data can be read from a source, written to an output device. Stored data are regarded as part of the state of the entity performing the algorithm. In practice, the state is stored in one or more data structures, for some such computational process, the algorithm must be rigorously defined, specified in the way it applies in all possible circumstances that could arise. That is, any conditional steps must be dealt with, case-by-case
The example-diagram of Euclid's algorithm from T.L. Heath (1908), with more detail added. Euclid does not go beyond a third measuring, and gives no numerical examples. Nicomachus gives the example of 49 and 21: "I subtract the less from the greater; 28 is left; then again I subtract from this the same 21 (for this is possible); 7 is left; I subtract this from 21, 14 is left; from which I again subtract 7 (for this is possible); 7 is left, but 7 cannot be subtracted from 7." Heath comments that, "The last phrase is curious, but the meaning of it is obvious enough, as also the meaning of the phrase about ending 'at one and the same number'."(Heath 1908:300).
"Inelegant" is a translation of Knuth's version of the algorithm with a subtraction-based remainder-loop replacing his use of division (or a "modulus" instruction). Derived from Knuth 1973:2–4. Depending on the two numbers "Inelegant" may compute the g.c.d. in fewer steps than "Elegant".