In computing, an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically used to solve a class of specific problems or perform a computation. Algorithms are the basis of all computer programs, providing the step-by-step procedure for calculations, data processing, and automated reasoning. They can range from simple functions like sorting data to complex operations like rendering graphics or encrypting data. Effective algorithms are essential for efficient software performance, as they determine the speed and resource consumption of tasks. Understanding algorithms is fundamental in computer science and programming, influencing the development and optimization of software applications.