How Algorithms Work

Posted on April 11, 2011 by Sara Hassler,, Resource Development Manager No Comments

Sometimes it’s easier to relate an abstract process to our day to day life. So to take a close look at what an algorithm is and what it does — Think the Internet. We know the World Wide Web uses algorithms to function. After-all the internet could be considered an enormous computer program completely based in algorithmic calculations. When we hop onto the Information Super-Highway, we jump aboard the largest algorithm we probably know. Here’s how the internet uses algorithms and how we use and benefit from an algorithm’s calculations every day.

Let’s say we want to find a local auto dealer.

  • We type in the words or characters/letters “auto dealer” in our search engine box.

We have just input our integer or number/letters.

The internet’s algorithm, or process, has taken our input letters and calculated a response for us.

  • The search engine generates a list with all the websites that contain the letters/characters  “autodealer”.

If we live in New York, we won’t be interested in auto dealers in Texas. So we begin to narrow our search, or narrow our input integers/letters in order to receive a better more targeted response.

  • We go back into our search engine box and type, “auto dealer New York”.

Now the internet’s algorithm re-calculates our input letters/integers and processes our input.

This new algorithm calculation responds to our new input integers/letters “auto dealer New York”.

  • A new list is generated and that results with a search list that contains all the auto dealers that have the letters NewYork associated with their websites.

Moving ahead, we think to ourselves, New York includes Long Island and New York City. We think again, we are located in Buffalo, New York and what we really want are local auto dealers in our own area.

  • So we again go back into our search engine box, we re-type the words, “auto dealer New York Buffalo”.

The search engine’s algorithm, takes our new input integers/letters, does another calculation, process and creates a new response.

  • Another list is generated and the results offer us a search list with all the auto dealers that have the letters NewYorkB uffalo associated with their website.

We now have the info we wanted to begin with.

As website owners know, the internet can direct users to very specific places online. It’s a matter of learning how that traffic is directed that puts one website in front of another.

We welcome new ideas and you might inspire us for our next blog post! Share your thoughts and tips by posting comments for us. Thanks for reading!

By Sara Hassler

Resource Development Manager

Photographic Credit: jscreationzs /

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  1. What is 3 + 6 ?
    Please leave these two fields as-is:
    IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)