Are algorithms the same as computer programs?

Algorithms and computer programs are sometimes used interchangeably, but they refer to two distinct but interrelated concepts.

  • An algorithm is a step-by-step instruction for solving a problem that is precise yet general.
  • Computer programs are specific implementations of an algorithm in a specific programming language. In other words, the algorithm is the high-level description of an idea, while the program is the actual implementation of that idea.