The logical structure of algorithms
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The Logical Structure of Algorithms - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The Logical Structure of Algorithms Algorithms Steps necessary to complete a task or solve a problem. Example: Recipe for baking a cake Will contain a list of ingredients Step-by-step instructions on what to do with those ingredients A recipe provides an algorithm for baking a cake.

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Algorithms l.jpg

  • Steps necessary to complete a task or solve a problem.

  • Example: Recipe for baking a cake

    • Will contain a list of ingredients

    • Step-by-step instructions on what to do with those ingredients

    • A recipe provides an algorithm for baking a cake.

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Other algorithms

  • When you learned the process for doing long division you learned an algorithm.

  • The Holtrop and Mennen Algorithm, used by naval architects to design the optimum propellers for a ship, contains thousands of steps.

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Algorithms are sequential

  • Usually we can think of the instructions in an algorithm as being executed one at a time.

  • They form what is sometimes called a sequential logic.

  • This is only part of the story, however…

  • As a software developer you need to be able to design, manipulate, and implement sequential algorithms

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Common patterns

  • There are a small set of patterns that exist in the design of sequential logic.

  • These patterns fall into categories that form the elements of logical structure.

  • They can be combined in myriad ways to form the logical structure of algorithms.

  • A software developer familiar with the design patterns of logical structure can more easily create and modify software.

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  • In the design of the plumbing for a new building, architects have a selection of parts from which to build the system.

    • T-joints

    • Elbow joints

    • Many kinds of valves

    • Etc.

  • Architects need to know how the individual parts work.

  • And how they fit together.

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Elements of logical structure

  • There are only a handful of basic elements that a software developer need learn.

  • In the 1960s Bohm and Jacopinini showed that algorithms are composed of three major structures:

    • Linear sequences

    • Branching routines

    • Loops

  • Modern computer programming focuses on these three elements of logical structure.

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  • Bohm and Jacopini were not the first to use flowcharts but they were the first to formalize the process.

  • They used a simple system, two symbols

    • Rectangles to show each step in an algorithm

    • Diamond-shaped boxes to show a decision step or condititional.

  • We will use one additional symbol, an oval, to mark the beginning and end of an algorithm.

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  • There should be only one terminator at the beginning of an algorithm and one at the end.

  • Each algorithm should have one entry point (beginning) and one exit point (end).

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Linear sequences

  • The simplest element of logical structure is a linear sequence.

  • One instruction follows another in a straight line.

  • No branching

  • No looping

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Linear Sequences

  • Deceptively simple

  • Must meet the following criteria:

    • Entry and exit conditions need to be clear:

      • What conditions need to exist before the sequence starts?

      • What can we expect the situation to be when the sequence is finished?

    • Must be complete; don’t leave out necessary steps.

    • Steps must be in proper order

    • Each individual instruction must be correct; if one step is wrong, the entire algorithm is wrong.

  • Example: driving directions”

    • What if you leave out a turn?

    • What if you say to turn left, when you should have said right?

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In short

  • Linear sequences must…

    • Have clearly stated entry and exit conditions

    • Be complete

    • Be organized in the proper order

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Selection Sequences

  • Sometimes an algorithm reaches a point where the sequence of steps can go one direction or another (a fork in the road).

  • This is called a selection sequence.

  • Also called a conditional or branching routine

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Selection Sequences

Consider a student who has a chemistry lab at 2pm on Fridays only:


If (Today is Friday)

Then (Get to lab by 2pm)

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In Summary

  • Selection sequence occurs whenever the path of sequential logic (steps) in an algorithm splits into two or more paths.

  • Each path is called a branch.

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Binary and Multiple Branching

  • If there are two possible paths, then the routine is known as binary branching.

  • If there are more than two paths, multiple branching.

  • Binary branching: “Would you like vanilla ice cream?”

  • Multiple branching: “What flavor of ice cream would you like?”

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Writing multiple as binary

  • It is possible to write a multiple branching routine as a collection of binary branching routines.

  • Instead of “What flavor of ice cream would you like?” we can ask:

    • “Would you like vanilla ice cream?”

    • “Would you like chocolate ice cream?”

    • “Would you like strawberry ice cream?”

    • …for all 28 flavors.

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Writing multiple as binary

  • Alice does not have an instruction for multiple branching.

  • Most programming languages do not.

  • We write all selection sequences as collections of binary branching routines.

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Binary Bypass vs. Binary Choice

  • Two kinds of binary branching:

    • Binary bypass

    • Binary choice

  • In binary bypass, an instruction is either executed or bypassed.

  • In binary choice, one of two instructions is chosen.

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Binary Choice vs. Binary Bypass

  • The difference is subtle but significant.

  • In binary bypass, it is possible that nothing will occur.

  • In binary choice, one of the two instructions, but not both will occur.

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  • Sometimes we use more formal language to describe algorithms - pseudocode.

  • It looks something like the code in a computer programming language.

  • But it’s only a tool to help understand algorithms.

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  • In pseudocode, a binary bypass is equivalent to an If/Then instruction:

    If (today is Friday)

    Then (get to chemistry lab by 2pm)

  • A binary choice is equivalent to an If/Then/Else instruction:

    If (Today is Monday, or today is Wednesday, or today is Friday)

    Then (go to math class)

    Else (go to history class)

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  • Basic form:

    If (condition)

    Then (one or more instructions)

    Else (one or more instructions)

  • Must have a condition

  • Any number of instructions can be executed along either branch.

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Repetition Sequences - Looping

  • A repetition sequence forms a loop in an algorithm.

  • It forms a branch backward to a previous instruction

  • A part of the algorithm is then repeated.

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Explaining the pseudocode

  • In this algorithm, the word While is used for looping instead of the word If that was used for branching.

  • This tells the computer to loop back to the conditional expression when the block of code following the While is finished.

  • Each time the condition is true the computer will execute the block of code

  • When it is no longer true the block of code will be bypassed and the computer will move on to whatever comes next in the algorithm.

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Control Variables

  • A variable holds a value that can change.

  • This loop has a control variable as its condition.

  • A control variable is a variable whose value controls whether or not a selection sequence will be executed.