5 Algorithms Every App Developer Should Know and Understand

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Algorithms

Algorithms

“The happiness is a simple algorithm coded by the crowd or by one or two people!”
-Deyth Banger

These words perfectly describe what goes into developing an app and how few algorithms decided the fate of an app. Algorithms play a vital role in deciding the success or failure of an app.
…which brings us to obvious question

What are algorithms?
For those who know, you can skip this section and move on to the next. But those who don’t, DO NOT skip a single word.

Algorithms are a set of instructions designed to solve problems.

For instance, getting dressed is an everyday process we all go through, and it involves an algorithm.

How?

Say you know exactly what you want to wear: your black jeans, belt, blue shirt, white socks and sneakers. You decide what to wear. You decide in which order you will wear it. And then you wear them one by one by doing certain actions.

The only thing you need to focus on while designing your algorithm is the order in which you want to put on the items of clothing.

get_dressed()
{
put_on( blue_shirt );
put_on( black_jeans );
put_on( belt );
put_on( white_socks );
put_on( sneakers );
}

Getting dressed is a simple sequential process. And hidden in it, is a marvellous algorithm processed by our brains.

The basic logic behind developing algorithms is to reduce the efforts required by humans. The world of algorithms is endless and fascinating. Working as a developer encourages you to explore new tools and use them in applications.

However, if you never take the time to explore the areas you are not familiar with, then you could be missing opportunities to write better code. I believe that the five algorithms featured here are some of the most practical for mobile developers to use in their applications.

1. Sort Algorithms
Sorting is the most common and majorly used algorithms in mobile app development. The basic idea is to arrange the data or items in a definite pattern. Depending upon your requirement, you may want to use any of these.
• Bubble sort
• Insertion Sort
• Merge Sort
• Quick Sort
• Bucket Sort
• Heap Sort
• Counting Sort

It is essential to know when and where which one is to be used. Few instances, where you can find a direct application of sorting algorithm includes:

Sorting on the basis of popularity, price, etc. on e-commerce applications

It even works in sorting of contacts alphabetically in the mobile contacts application

2. Search Algorithms
Binary Search is used on a sorted dataset. In binary search, the first comparison is made with the mid-position element of the list. If at this stage the value gets matched, then we return the value.

If not and the value is less than the middle element, then it would be present in the lower end of the array and if it’s greater than the element would be found in the other upper half of the dataset. This procedure is useful where there are large numbers of elements in an array.

Some applications of this algorithm are:
• When you are searching for a song in a sorted list of songs, it applies binary search algorithm and string-matching to quickly deliver the results.
• Or you are looking up for a book in a library where books are sorted in alphabetically order. You will apply binary search algorithm and string-matching to find your book.

3. Hashing Algorithms
The hash algorithm is the most widely used method to find suitable data by key or ID. We get data by its index. The data format is called as Hash-Map or Hash-Table which maps keys to values, easily. You can do value search using these keys. The idea is to use a suitable hash function that performs key-value mapping. Choosing a good hash function depends on the situation.

For example:

• Input Number
10,987

• Hashing Algorithm
Input# x 123

• Hash Value
1,351,401

Developers generally use complex algorithms and quite big hash values for encrypting, like 128-bit numbers. A 128-bit number has a possible 3128, or 4,302,724,769,309,484,634,533,846,174,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations – this would be like trying to find one particular fish in a vast endless ocean.

The hash function is widely used in encrypting critical data such as passwords and keys.

4. Language Detection Algorithm
As the name suggests, this algorithm takes the text as input and judges in which human language the text input is written in.

This algorithm is widely used among those mobile applications, which are designed to perform translations for multiple languages.

It is also used in speech recognition software based on the lines of mobile apps such as Google Talk, Siri, Cortana, etc.

Spam detecting apps also use Language Detection Algorithm to determine multiple languages and identify in which language emails, comments and the rest of the input is written in before spam filtering algorithms kick in.

Without such tracking, content coming from different geographical regions which are suspected of spreading spam cannot be adequately eliminated across various platforms.

5. Dijkstra
Dijkstra’s algorithm has multiple variants, but one of the most commonly used is this one which is used to find the shortest paths from the source vertex to all other vertices in the graph.

For instance, a particular area as geographical map and take this geographical map as a GRAPH. Now the locations on the map are our VERTICES in the algorithm. And the roads between locations are our EDGES. So, the WEIGHTS OF EDGES here are the distance between those two locations.

Through this, we can find out the shortest way between the two locations.

It used to know the shortest path between two cities on a map and is used in many applications such as Google maps. Though It uses more complex and efficient algorithms. But Dijkstra is the basic. It’s also used in finding the shortest communication path between two nodes connected to a network.

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