Algorithms vs Pseudocode: Difference You Should Know

Algorithms vs Pseudocode: Difference You Should Know

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional in computer programming, you might have definitely come across the terms algorithm and pseudocode.

Pseudocode and algorithm are closely related to computer programming. Let’s dive into the definition of a computer program and move ahead with the difference between algorithm and pseudocode.

In general, a computer program is a set of instructions that a programmer writes to instruct a computer to perform a particular task.

However, before writing a computer program for a specific problem, a programmer first creates an algorithm and designs a pseudocode. Both algorithm and pseudocode assist programmers in creating computer programs.

Now, you might be wondering what these terms actually are and how they differ from each other. Well, through this article, we shall provide you insights into what exactly algorithm and pseudocode are and what sets them apart.


So, let us get started!

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm in computer programming is a well-structured step-by-step solution to a particular problem.

In other terms, we can say that an algorithm is a set of instructions or rules that specify how to solve a particular problem to get the expected results.

Simply, an algorithm is more analogous to a recipe for any food item. When you try any new recipe, what you do is first read the instructions and later follow them sequentially to create a delicious food item.

Similarly, an algorithm helps you create a computer program to solve a specific problem and get the expected results.

Unlike computer programs, algorithms are language-independent. You can create algorithms in simple English since they just involve plain instructions.

Now, consider that you need to create a computer program that adds any two numbers. So, the first step would be to initialize the sum variable to zero, enter the two numbers to add, perform the addition of the two numbers and store it in the sum variable, and finally, display the result. This is an algorithm for adding two numbers.

In a nutshell, an algorithm is a set of steps or instructions that leads to the solution of a problem and the generation of the desired outcome.

What is a Pseudocode?

Pseudocode is more similar to a computer program but is not exactly the same. It is an informal way of writing a computer program, which involves representing the sequence of instructions in a human-readable form.

In other words, we can define pseudocode as a simpler version of a computer program in the plain English language.

Moreover, pseudocode provides an outline of a computer program. This means that it represents the summary and flow of the computer program and does not include its intricacies and details. Pseudocode is created based on the functions and description of the computer program.

Like a computer program, there is no particular syntax or language on how to write pseudocode. You can write it in simple English like an algorithm.

The primary purpose of creating pseudocode is to help programmers understand the requirements of a particular project so that they can develop it accordingly. Since it involves most of the conceptual data, programmers can significantly save time while programming.

In addition, pseudocode helps in identifying errors in the flow of the computer program.

Algorithm vs Pseudocode - Example

Let us take an example of finding the radius of a circle to understand how to write an algorithm and pseudocode.


The following is an algorithm for the above problem:

Initialize a variable 'Area' to zero.
Read the value of the radius as provided by the user.
Calculate the area of a circle, i.e., 3.14 * r * r.
Store the result in 'Area'.
Display 'Area'.


The following pseudocode is the representation of the above algorithm:

	READ: Area, Radius;
	INPUT: r;
	Area = 3.14 * r * r;
Output Area;

**Algorithm vs Pseudocode - How Do They Differ? **

The following table highlights the major differences between an algorithm and pseudocode:

Parameters Algorithm Pseudocode
Definition An algorithm is a set of sequential rules of instructions to solve a specific problem. Pseudocode is an informal and high-level description of any operating principle of a computer program.
Purpose The primary purpose of an algorithm is to help in performing a particular task and obtain the expected outcome. It helps programmers to understand the requirements of a specific project. In addition, it serves as a method for creating an algorithm.
Format An algorithm is analogous to simple English statements. The structure of pseudocode is more similar to a high-level programming language.
Advantages The following are the advantages of an algorithm:
  • Step-wise solution to solving any problem.
  • Uses a definite procedure.
  • Independent of any programming language.
  • Easy to understand even by people from non-technical backgrounds.
Some remarkable benefits of pseudocode are as follows:
  • Represents the entire flow and summary of a computer program.
  • Easily gets converted into an actual programming code.
  • Fairly easy to understand.
Disadvantages Some major drawbacks of an algorithm are as follows:
  • Challenging to create an algorithm for large and complex problems.
  • Difficult to represent branching and looping in algorithms.
The following are significant downsides of pseudocode:
  • Each designer has their own way of designing pseudocode.
  • Does not support compilation or execution.


Here we have reached the end of our discussion on the difference between algorithm and pseudocode.

To conclude, an algorithm is a step-by-step solution to a particular problem, while pseudocode is an efficient way of representing an algorithm.

Both of them help programmers create computer programs in different programming languages.

We hope this blog post has helped you gain a better understanding of the difference between algorithm and pseudocode.

In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the author by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.

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