What Is an Algorithm?

In the most basic sense, an algorithm is a set of instructions. For computers and devices, search engines, and various software systems, they are a set of various rules and evaluations that inform what shows up and in what order as related to the particular query of a user. Algorithms are what Google uses to rank pages by crawling for good content with unbroken links, among other things. When you type a query into any search engine, its algorithms are why you have some results and not others. Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms show users targeted ads and results, and some say they may have even swayed 2016’s election results.