Difference Between Algorithm and Pseudocode

Difference Between Algorithm and Pseudocode

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Vikram
Vikram Singh
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 16:50 IST

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for performing a task or solving a problem, whereas pseudocode is an end-to-end description of an algorithm in formal English (or in natural language) to convey the logic of an algorithm. In this article, we will learn the difference between algorithm and pseudocode.

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Algorithm and Pseudocode are two important concepts in programming that are quite similar yet differ. Algorithms are set of instructions to solve the problem, while pseudocode is a rough sketch to organize and understand a program before it is written in codes. The key difference between algorithms and pseudocode is that algorithms are more specific, while pseudocodes are more general.
This article will explore algorithms and pseudo, their differences, and the advantages and disadvantages of Algorithms and Pseudocodes.

Table of Content

What is the Difference Between Algorithm and Pseudocode?

Parameter Algorithm Pseudocode
Definition A step-by-step procedure for performing the task or solving the problem. An end-to-end description of an algorithm in formally English (or in natural language) to convey the logic of an algorithm.
Formality Highly formal and very precise. Less formal and more flexible.
Readability Difficult to understand for non-programmers Easy to read; even non-programmers can understand it too.
Executibility It can be directly executed in a programming language. It can’t be directly executed.
Portability It may be tied to any specific programming language. Not tied to any specific platform and programming language.
Structure Unstructured Structured, but not specific to any programming language.
Use Cases Use for the actual implementation of code. Used as a planning tool before writing any complex code.

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is a set of instructions or step-by-step procedures for solving problems or performing tasks. These sets of instructions are unambiguous and very well-defined. Now, let’s take an example to get a better understanding.

Example: Find the maximum value in a given list of numbers.

Solutions: Here is a set of instructions (or algorithm) that you can follow to find the maximum value in the list.

  1. Start with the first number and assign it as the maximum value.
  2. Now, move to the second number; if the second number > the first number, then set the maximum value to the second number; there is no change.
    1. i.e., if the current number is greater than the maximum value, then set the maximum value to the current number.
  3. Move on to the next number in the list, and repeat step 2 until you have reached the end of the list.
  4. The maximum value is the value that was stored in the maximum variable.

Now, let’s try the above sequence of instructions to write a program in Python.


 
# algorithm
# define a function to find the maximum value in a given list.
def find_max(list):
maximum = list[0] #setting the first value as the maximum
for i in range(len(list)):
if list[i] > maximum: # check if the current value is greater than the present maximum value
maximum = list[i] # if the current value is greater than the present value setting the current values as the maximum
return maximum
#define a list
l1 = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, -5, -4.5, -3.5, -2.5, -1.5, 0]
#find the maxim value
find_max(l1)
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Output

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What is Pseudocode?

It is a high-level description of an algorithm that uses natural language and simple programming constructs to convey the logic of an algorithm. Pseudocodes are like a special language software developers use to plan an algorithm before writing the code.

In simple terms, it is considered a way or medium to communicate algorithms to other people (or non-programmers) and to document algorithms for future reference.

let’s consider the same example above to find the maximum value from the list.

So, the corresponding pseudo

  • Start
  • Initialize a variable called “max” to the first element of the list
  • Loop through each element of the list
  • If the current element is greater than “max”, set “max” equal to the current element
  • Continue looping until all elements have been checked
  • Output the value of “max”
  • Stop

i.e.,


 
procedure find_max(list)
max = list[0] #initialize a variable
for i = 1 to len(list) #loop through each element
if list[i] > max
max = list[i] #if the current value is greater than max, set max = current value
return max
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Advantages and Disadvantages

Algorithm

Advantages Disadvantages
Provides a clear and precise description of a solution that makes it easy to understand and follow. Designing an algorithm is difficult and time-consuming.
It is reusable, i.e., once the algorithm is designed, it can be used multiple times. It requires strong problem-solving skills and an understanding of programming concepts.
Algorithms are designed to be optimized and efficient, which makes them solve complex problems. They are designed for a specific platform or a programming language, which makes them less flexible.

Pseudocode

Advantages Disadvantages
Flexible as it is not tied to any specific programming language or platform. It is not precise enough to capture the complexity of the solution.
It is simply a programming construct written in a natural programming language, which makes it easier for non-programmers. It can’t be directly executed, which makes it difficult to test and debug.
It’s a helpful tool that helps programmers to visualize and refine the logic before implementation. It’s highly subjective, as it may be interpreted differently by different programmers, which may lead to inconsistency.

Conclusion

In this article, we have briefly discussed what algorithms and pseudo code are, the differences between them, and what are the advantages and disadvantages.

Hope you will like the article.

Keep Learning!!

About the Author
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Vikram Singh
Assistant Manager - Content

Vikram has a Postgraduate degree in Applied Mathematics, with a keen interest in Data Science and Machine Learning. He has experience of 2+ years in content creation in Mathematics, Statistics, Data Science, and Mac... Read Full Bio