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Difference Between Algorithm and Flowchart

Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Prepbytes

We are living in the world of computers and in the world of computer science, both algorithms and flowcharts play crucial parts in the development of software as they are two concepts that play a crucial role in developing and designing computer programs. We can say that they provide the same purpose which is providing a step-by-step process to solve a problem but there are also some key differences between them. By the end of the article, you will have a complete idea about what algorithms and flowcharts are with the differences between them.

What is an Algorithm?

The algorithm can be understood as the set of instructions that are followed by the developer or programmer to perform a specific task or solve a problem. It is not a random procedure it is a well-defined procedure that takes the input, solves or processes it, and after that return that output. The algorithms are used in various fields like physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, and computer science. We can use algorithms to solve a wide range of problems ranging from simple calculations to complex data analysis.

The algorithm must satisfy the given below criteria.

  • The algorithm must provide the correct output for the given input.
  • The algorithm must finish or terminate in a finite number of steps.
  • The algorithm must be efficient in using the resources.
  • The algorithm must be easy and clear to understand.

Typically, algorithms are written in a high-level language like Python, C++, or Java. Programmers can create code using high-level languages in a more linguistically similar manner, which makes it simpler to read and change. Once an algorithm is expressed in a high-level language, it can be translated into executable code that can be executed on a computer by compilation or interpretation.

Example of Algorithm

In this section, we will see an example to write an algorithm to print numbers from 1 – 15.

  • Step 1: Initialize the variable i by 0.
  • Step 2: Increment the value of x by 1.
  • Step 3: print the values of the variable i.
  • Step 4: If i is less than 15 then go back to step 2 otherwise implement the next step.
  • Step 5: Exit.

Advantages of Algorithms

Below are some of the advantages of algorithms

  • Algorithms are precise and consistent which gives precise results.
  • Solving problems by using algorithms is more efficient than solving them by hit and trial method.
  • They can be used repeatedly and can be replicated easily.
  • We can use algorithms to automate various tasks like decision-making and data analysis.

Disadvantages of Algorithms

Some of the disadvantages of algorithms are given below.

  • Sometimes algorithms are complex and a bit difficult to understand.
  • Algorithms only work on the specified data and they will not work on all domains.
  • If the algorithms are based on wrong or faulty data then they will give wrong outputs.
  • Because of the algorithm, it is sometimes hard to trace the problem.

What is Flowchart?

An algorithm is graphically depicted in a flowchart. It represents the numerous stages required to solve a problem using symbols and diagrams. Flowcharts are used to show how information or data flows through a process. They are utilized to quickly and effectively convey complex concepts and processes.

Different kinds of processes or actions are represented by a standard collection of characters in flowcharts. Programmers make the flowchart by using pen and pencil. For large programs, a flowchart proves to be a useful representation for finding the flow of the code.

We can flowchart using many tools like, Microsoft Visio, and Lucidchart.
You can refer to this article to know about flowcharts in detail.

Example of Flowchart

Here is an example of a flowchart for adding two numbers.

Advantages of Flowchart

Some of the advantages of flowcharts are given below.

  • They are the visual representation of the process.
  • They can be created easily and quickly using software tools.
  • They can help in improving collaboration and communication between team members.
  • They can help in detecting errors and flaws.

Disadvantages of Flowcharts

Below are some of the advantages of flowcharts.

  • They are not able to represent a complex process in a concise manner.
  • Flowcharts are time-consuming, especially for large processes.
  • Sometimes flowchart leads to misinterpretation if not designed properly.

Difference between Algorithm and Flowchart

In this section, we will learn about some points of difference between algorithm and flowchart.

Parameter Algorithm Flowchart
Representation It is represented in high-level language It is represented using symbols and diagrams.
Abstraction It describes the steps involved in solving a problem. It provides a more detailed view of the steps involved in solving a problem.
Flexibility It is more flexible compared to a flowchart. It is less flexible compared to the algorithm.
Precision They are more precise than flowcharts. They are less precise than algorithms.
Execution An algorithm is executed by a computer. Flowchart is a visual aid for understanding the algorithm.
Portability They are portable and can be used in different environments and platforms. They need to be modified before moving to other platform or environment.

By summarising we can say that algorithms and flowcharts are a very essential concepts in computer science. They both provide a step-by-step process to solve a problem, but they differ in their representation, level of detail, flexibility, complexity, precision, execution, and portability. Understanding the differences between algorithm and flowchart is crucial for computer programmers, as they use both concepts to design and develop computer programs. By using the right tool for the right job, programmers can create efficient, reliable, and maintainable software systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the difference between algorithms and flowchart.

1. Explain how the algorithm and flowchart are related?
Flowcharts are used to represent algorithms visually.

2. Name some of the common symbols used in flowcharts?
Common symbols used in flowcharts include start/end symbols, input/output symbols, process symbols, decision symbols, and connector symbols.

3. What is the difference between a program and a flowchart?
A flowchart is a visual representation of an algorithm, while a program is a set of instructions that a computer can execute.

4. What is the purpose of a process symbol in a flowchart?
A process symbol is used to represent a step or action that needs to be taken in a flowchart.

5. What is the difference between a linear and a non-linear algorithm?
A linear algorithm is one that executes its steps in a specific order, while a non-linear algorithm may execute its steps in any order.

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