The algorithm and flowchart are somehow related to each other. But of course, they are not the same thing. They have some difference and their own characteristics. Before moving into the difference between algorithm and flowchart first, we have to know what is an algorithm and what is a flowchart. After a basic understanding of both, we will discuss the basic difference between algorithm and flowchart in details.
What is an algorithm :
An algorithm is basically the steps involved to solve a problem. It is important to write computer programs without any logical error to generate the proper output. So, it is recommended that the programmer prepare a rough design to solve the problem by showing the steps involved in the program. This is called algorithm. So in simple words, an algorithm is a step by step procedure to describe the solution of a particular problem.
Let’s take a real-world example, a simple algorithm to make a coffee! So, what are the steps involved in making a coffee? Let’s write down all the steps one by one.
The algorithm to make a coffee :
- Wash the kettle.
- Connect the kettle to the power supply.
- Wash the mugs and spoons.
- Fill the kettle with water.
- Switch on the kettle.
- Mix milk powder, sugar and coffee with cold water.
- Wait until the water boils.
- Switch off the kettle and disconnect it from the power supply.
- Pour the hot water into the mug and stir it.
- Serve the coffee.
We repeat the steps from 6 through 9 to serve or prepare more coffee for the amount of water contained in the kettle. When the water is not sufficient enough, we repeat from step 4 through 9. Here, we apply our logical thinking capability to judge the quantity of water and temperature of boiled water. We are sure that you can think of a different approach for making coffee.
Now, let’s take another example, an algorithm to find the largest of three numbers with a computer program.
The algorithm to find the largest of three numbers :
- Start execution.
- Input the value three values a, b, c.
- Assign big = a.
- If b > big, then assign big = b.
- If c > big, then assign big = c.
- Print big.
- Stop execution.
What is a flowchart :
We got that, algorithm presents step-by-step instructions required to solve any problem. But now, what is a flowchart? A flowchart is nothing but the diagrammatic representation of an algorithm.
When a problem to be solved using a computer, it becomes essential to represent all the decisions to be taken by the machine, actions to be performed and the sequence in which these are to be performed. So, the flowchart is a way that we can use to represent those actions and their sequence diagrammatically.
It uses several geometrical figures to represent the operations, and arrows to show the direction of flow. Following are the commonly used symbols in a flowchart.
Now let’s take an example. Let’s draw the flowchart to find the largest of three numbers.
Flowchart to find the largest of three numbers :
The flowchart is the natural way of expressing the relationship between different parts of a program that would otherwise require many pages of extensive language to describe.
So far we have discussed the basic concept of algorithm and flowchart. Now let’s come to our main topic i.e. difference between algorithm and flowchart.
Difference between algorithm and flowchart :
From the above discussion of flowchart and algorithm, I think you have already got the basic difference between an algorithm and flowchart. Now let’s purify them in a tabular form –
|A flowchart is a diagrammatic way of representing an algorithm||It is a set of instruction or step by step procedure to solve a problem.|
|It is very easy to create and understand.||It is sometimes very difficult to create and understand.|
|It uses various kind of geometrical diagrams which are interlinked with arrows or lines.||It doesn’t use any kind of geometrical figure.|
|Flowchart can be used in various field to represent a process.||Algorithm is basically used in the field of computer science and mathematics only.|