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What's an algorithm? - David J. Malan

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An algorithm is a method of solving problems both big and small. Though computers run algorithms constantly, humans can also solve problems with algorithms. David J. Malan explains how algorithms can be used in seemingly simple situations and also complex ones.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Composer Bart de Jong (of Men of Mega), Jasper ten Kleij (of Men of Mega)
  • Educator David J. Malan
  • Director Joyce Stenneke
  • Narrator David J. Malan
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Here's a video that explains how your computer and cell phone use algorithms.
Do you want to learn more about Computer Science? Check out this class taught by David Malan.
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for calculations. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning.
How, exactly, does online dating work? In this perfect-for-Valentine’s-Day TED-Ed lesson, OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder walks you through how the dating website does its matching — by using a carefully-honed algorithm to create a compatibility rating for two potential daters. In this fascinating video, Rudder shares how the site lets daters decide which factors are most important to them — and then crunches the numbers behind the scenes. Here's a blog post from TED.com.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Composer Bart de Jong (of Men of Mega), Jasper ten Kleij (of Men of Mega)
  • Educator David J. Malan
  • Director Joyce Stenneke
  • Narrator David J. Malan