Difference Between Flowchart and Algorithm

Difference Between Flowchart and Algorithm

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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Jan 5, 2023 17:39 IST

The article talks about flowcharts and algorithms and discusses difference between flowchart and algorithm.


Flowchart and algorithm are two interrelated computing terms. Both represent the solution to a problem, but they have different uses and characteristics. A flowchart is a graphical communication tool to describe and document a process, while an algorithm is a series of steps to solve a problem.


What is a Flowchart?

A flowchart is a graphical representation of the series of steps to execute a program. In other words, a flowchart is the graphical form of an algorithm. The flowchart can be particularly useful in programming and uses different geometric patterns to demonstrate the sequential steps involved in a process.

A flowchart enables the users to present ad view the elements of a program individually, thereby contributing to the analysis and comparison of steps. It makes complex processes easier to understand, and the program will have a good chance of success.

How to Build a Flowchart?

A flowchart is built with a series of symbols and lines. These symbols represent the steps to follow to reach a result. The lines show the sequence of steps to follow to complete the process. Symbols are also used to represent inputs, outputs, decisions, loops, and other elements of a process.

To learn more about flowcharts, read – What is a Flowchart? (With Examples)

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is a step-by-step method of solving problems. It includes a set of rules/instructions that a computer program must follow. It is used to find solutions to complicated problems in a reasonable amount of time. An algorithm is a detailed description of a procedure to solve a problem. Algorithms can be written in programming languages, such as Java or C++, to be executed by a computer.

An algorithm has fundamental characteristics as listed below –

  • An algorithm must be precise and indicate the order in which each step is carried out.
  • An algorithm must be well-defined. That is, if the execution of the algorithm is followed twice, the same logical sequence must be obtained.
  • The algorithm must be precisely defined for each step, i.e., any ambiguity must be avoided when defining each step.
  • Algorithms should be expressed in either mathematical or computer programming language.
  • An algorithm must be “FINITE.” If an algorithm starts, it must end at some point. It must have a finite number of steps.
  • Input: The algorithm will have zero or more inputs. These quantities also belong to specified sets of objects. For example, they can be character strings, integers, natural, fractional, etc. These are always representative quantities of the real world expressed in a way suitable for computer interpretation.
  • Output: The algorithm has one or more outputs with the inputs.

Related – Know the Difference Between Algorithm and Program

How is an Algorithm Built?

An algorithm is built with a series of detailed steps. These steps must be executed to reach the desired result. Algorithms can be written in a programming language, such as Java or C++, to be executed by a computer. Below are some of the basic steps involved in building an algorithm –

Analysis of the problem: Identify the inputs, processes, and outputs of the problem. Declaration of variables. 

Design of the Algorithm: Describes the orderly sequence of the steps, without ambiguity, that is, being precise and truthful in the search for the solution to the problem.

Coding of the Algorithm: The expression in a programming language of the steps defined in the algorithm.

Execution: Execution and validation of the program by the computer.

Must Read – Difference between Verification and Validation

Differences Between Flowchart and Algorithm

Below are three important differences between a flowchart and an algorithm:

Usage: A flowchart documents and communicates a process while an algorithm finds solutions to complex problems.

Construction: A flowchart is built with symbols and lines, while an algorithm is built with detailed steps.

Execution: A flowchart can be represented visually, while an algorithm can be written in programming language for execution by a computer.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Flowchart and Algorithm

Flowchart Algorithm
Description A flowchart represents different steps to help solve a problem.  An algorithm is a step-by-step process to solve mathematical or sometimes computational problems.
Expression  It is a step-by-step diagram using different shapes and sizes of arrows showing their connection. It can be expressed in any language, including natural language, pseudocode, and programming language.
Complexity Easy to create and be understood by anyone. It is relatively difficult to understand by a layman.
Geometric diagrams Uses geometric diagrams, charts, and symbols interrelated with arrows or lines. The algorithm is not represented by any geometric figure.
Scope of use Used to represent a process across varying fields. The algorithm is used in the field of computer science and mathematics only
Use  It is used to analyze, design, document, or manage a program in various fields. It can be used to define the notion of decidability.
Knowledge required A flowchart user does not require knowledge of a programming language to write and understand a flowchart. The user needs knowledge of a programming language to write and understand an algorithm.
Debugging Easier to debug errors. Difficult to debug errors.
branch and loop Easy to show branches and loops. Complex to show branches and loops.
Solution The solution is displayed in graphical format. The solution is displayed in non-computer language.
About the Author
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio