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Monday, November 21, 2011

Pseudo Codes

In computer science and numerical computation, pseudocode is a compact and informal high-level description of the operating principle of a computer program or other algorithm. It uses the structural conventions of a programming language, but is intended for human reading rather than machine reading. Pseudocode typically omits details that are not essential for human understanding of the algorithm, such as variable declarations, system-specific code and some subroutines. The programming language is augmented with natural language descriptions details, where convenient, or with compact mathematical notation. The purpose of using pseudocode is that it is easier for persons to understand than conventional programming language code, and that it is an efficient and environment-independent description of the key principles of an algorithm. It is commonly used in textbooks and scientific publications that are documenting various algorithms, and also in planning of computer program development, for sketching out the structure of the program before the actual coding takes place.

No standard for pseudocode syntax exists, as a program in pseudocode is not an executable program. Pseudocode resembles, but should not be confused with, skeleton programs including dummy code, which can be compiled without errors. Flowcharts and UML charts can be thought of as a graphical alternative to pseudocode, but are more spacious on paper.


Textbooks and scientific publications related to computer science and numerical computation often use pseudocode in description of algorithms, so that all programmers can understand them, even if they do not all know the same programming languages. In textbooks, there is usually an accompanying introduction explaining the particular conventions in use. The level of detail of the pseudo-code may in some cases approach that of formalized general-purpose languages.

A programmer who needs to implement a specific algorithm, especially an unfamiliar one, will often start with a pseudocode description, and then "translate" that description into the target programming language and modify it to interact correctly with the rest of the program. Programmers may also start a project by sketching out the code in pseudocode on paper before writing it in its actual language, as a top-down structuring approach.


As the name suggests, pseudocode generally does not actually obey the syntax rules of any particular language; there is no systematic standard form, although any particular writer will generally borrow style and syntax for example control structures from some conventional programming language. Popular syntax sources include Pascal, BASIC, C, C++, Java, Lisp, and ALGOL. Variable declarations are typically omitted. Function calls and blocks of code, for example code contained within a loop, is often replaced by a one-line natural language sentence.

Depending on the writer, pseudocode may therefore vary widely in style, from a near-exact imitation of a real programming language at one extreme, to a description approaching formatted prose at the other.

This is an example of pseudocode (for the mathematical game bizz buzz):

For i = 1 to 100
    set print_number to true
    if i mod 3 = 0
        print "Bizz" and set print_number to false
    if i mod 5 = 0
        print "Buzz" and set print_number to false
    if print_number, print i
    print a newline

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