Solved IGNOU Assignment >> MPC001 >> Q16

16. Algorithm

Algorithm is an approach of problem solving where defined set of step-by-step procedures are followed to reach the correct answer to a particular problem. By correctly following the instructions, you are guaranteed to reach the right answer.

Algorithms have four properties:
1. Clear and precise definition of steps
2. Finite number of steps (it ends)
3. Provides correct answer to problem
4. Generically applicable within given context

They are contrasted with heuristics - a mental shortcut that allows people to quickly make judgments and solve problems.

When problem-solving, deciding which method to use depends on the need for either accuracy or speed. If complete accuracy is required, use an algorithm. If time is an issue, use a heuristic.

Example: You have a reservation at a restaurant to meet a friend but can’t remember the name of the place. What can you do?

One approach is to look at yellow pages and see if you remember. Other approach is to try calling all restaurants listed to ask if your friend made a reservation there. This algorithm—“Call every restaurant in the book”— will work; but it is time-consuming and inefficient.

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Source:
Psychology, Robert Baron (Click for free eBook preview)
psychology.about.com
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MPC001: Cognitive Psychology
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