What is Algorithmic Thinking and Why is it Vital for Writing Computer Programs?

Algorithmic thinking is a key skill in the world of programming. It represents the way programmers analyze problems and create step-by-step solutions, known as algorithms. In this article, we will explore what algorithmic thinking is and why it is vitally important for writing computer programs. We will also use a specific example of an algorithm that describes how we prepare and drink coffee in the morning.

What is Algorithmic Thinking?

  • 1.1. Definition of an Algorithm

An algorithm is an exact sequence of instructions that solve a specific task or problem. It describes what needs to be done, in what order, and with what resources, to achieve the desired result. Algorithms are used to solve a wide range of tasks: from sorting data and searching in arrays to optimizing delivery routes and creating artificial intelligence.

1.2. Algorithmic Thinking

Algorithmic thinking is the process of reasoning and analyzing tasks to develop effective approaches for their solutions. It includes the following aspects:

Identification of the Problem: The first step in algorithmic thinking is understanding the essence of the task and its requirements.

Development of a Solution: The programmer must create a step-by-step solution that solves the problem using appropriate instructions and operations.

Evaluation and Optimization: After constructing the algorithm, it must be reviewed and optimized to reduce the time and resources required for its execution.

Development of a Program: Finally, the algorithm is converted into a computer program that can be executed by a computer.

  • Why is Algorithmic Thinking Important?

2.1. Efficiency in Problem-Solving

Algorithmic thinking allows programmers to solve complex tasks efficiently. They can analyze and optimize their solutions to achieve the desired results while avoiding unnecessary operations and optimizing the use of resources.

2.2. Programming and Software Development

Algorithmic thinking is essential for creating computer programs. Programmers use algorithms to create functional and efficient software applications. They analyze tasks and build step-by-step solutions that can be executed by the computer.

2.3. Solving Complex Problems

Algorithmic thinking is key to solving complex problems that require detailed analysis and systematic solutions. More complex tasks, such as optimizing delivery routes or developing algorithms for artificial intelligence, require a high level of algorithmic thinking.

Example of an Algorithm: “How I Prepare and Drink Coffee in the Morning”

To illustrate algorithmic thinking, let’s consider a sample algorithm for how we prepare and drink coffee in the morning. This example will help us understand what an algorithm is and how it plays a role in our daily lives.

Sample Algorithm: “How I Prepare and Drink Coffee in the Morning”

Prepare the ingredients:

Coffee machine






Sugar and milk (optional)

Fill the coffee machine’s reservoir with water.

Place the filter in the coffee machine and add the necessary amount of coffee.

Turn on the coffee machine and wait until the coffee is prepared.

Place the cup under the coffee machine.

Pour the coffee into the cup.

Add sugar and milk according to taste.

Stir the coffee with the spoon.

Sit in a cozy place and enjoy your coffee.

Usually, algorithms for solving a problem can be visualized with diagrams (flowcharts). Of course, they can also be written with computer code.

Here is an example of a diagram demonstrating the algorithm for solving a common life problem – the lamp won’t turn on:

This algorithm illustrates that algorithmic thinking can be applied even in everyday situations. Each step is well defined and sequentially follows the previous one to achieve the desired result.

Algorithmic thinking is a crucial skill that helps us solve problems, create programs, and optimize processes in our lives. It is a fundamental component of programming and computer science as a whole. Whether it’s complex algorithms for artificial intelligence or simple daily tasks like preparing coffee, algorithmic thinking helps us understand and optimize the steps needed to achieve our goals.

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Daniela has over 6 years of experience as a programmer with various technologies in diverse projects, including installers, replication servers, and cloud services. In recent years, she has been developing Cloud Services using Java and Spring. Daniela loves to teach because it gives her the opportunity, by sharing her knowledge and experience, to help her students start a successful IT career.

Dimitar is a programmer with many years of practice and experience in developing communication systems, software, and databases. He started his career at the Institute of Computer and Communication Systems at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He has participated in international and Bulgarian projects and has conducted exercises at the Technical University of Sofia. He has been involved in the development of billing systems, fiscal devices, VoIP, digital television, pharmacy and warehouse software, games, and many others. Dimitar uses C, C++, Python, Perl, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, PL/SQL, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MS SQL, Delphi. Dimitar is a fountain of technical knowledge. He will support you during the time allocated for self-study, whenever you have a question or a situation you’re not sure how to approach.

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