Difference Between Pseudocode and Algorithm

Living in a digital world, most of our works is computerized. Behind every function, application, or software, there are a bunch of computer instructions or programs written by programmers in specific programming languages. Behind every computer program, there are two main tools used while creating and preparing new programs, that is pseudocode and algorithm.

Pseudocode vs Algorithm

The main difference between pseudocode and algorithm is that pseudocode describes the flow of the program while the algorithm is a step-wise procedure written to simplify and provide a solution to a given problem. Pseudocode is the basis of the algorithm while the algorithm is the basis of any programming language.

Pseudocode vs Algorithm

Pseudocode is a tool to create the entire flow of the program. It is helpful especially while explaining a new project to programmers. The language used in pseudocode is simple and easy to comprehend. The pseudocode also uses named variables and identifiers to add specificity to the flow.

While algorithms are steps. It contains specific selections, sequences, and iterations. It can analyze every problem and develop an approach to solve the issue. The steps are simple and lead to a finite solution within a stipulated period. Every function in a program has a successful algorithm behind it.

Comparison Table Between Pseudocode and Algorithm

Parameters of comparisonPseudocodeAlgorithm
DefinitionA “text-based” tool useful in developing algorithmA sequential set of orders to complete certain task in a program
AimTo simplify the programming language so that humans can understand without having prior knowledge about programming language To help in performing the task and get the desired output through defined steps
CharacteristicsClear beginning and end, usage of named variables and identifiers Clear, unambiguous, defined input and output, language-independent and feasible
AdvantagesUse of simple English language, designs the entire flow of the program, and can be easily converted to actual programming code Step-wise representation which is simple and easy to understand and executes on available resources
DisadvantagesIt cannot be compiled or executed and every designer has a different style of writing pseudocode Time-consuming and certain branch and loop statements are difficult to depict in algorithm

What is Pseudocode?

Pseudocode is a way of describing an artificial program language. It helps in developing algorithms. Pseudocode can be also referred to as a design tool that is “text-based”. The job of pseudocode is to simplify the programming language so that humans can understand without having prior knowledge about programming language.

Pseudocode is useful in planning the algorithm before coding and provides a sketch or outline of the program. The entire flow and summary of the program are created in pseudocode. The details and intricacies are not included in pseudocode. The aim of creating pseudocode is to explain the requirements of a project to programmers so that they can code accordingly.

Since pseudocode is not a programming language, it cannot be compiled or executed. It does not use proper syntax or code but more of terms of the English language. Through pseudocode flow errors can be identified. Most of the conceptual data is already provided in the pseudocode, hence a lot of time is saved during programming.

The program description and function are the basis for creating pseudocode. Any error in the flow of the program is easy to correct during pseudocode. After being accepted by the programmers, it is comprehended and written in program form with the required syntax and codes.

What is Algorithm?

The algorithm is a step of the sequential procedure that is used to solve a problem. It includes actions that need to be executed and even the order of the actions. It contains all the instructions required to complete a task. These instructions are well-defined. The algorithm is essential to perform any function.

The algorithm is unambiguous. Tasks like automated reasoning, calculations a d data processing can be performed using algorithms. The algorithm is written within finite space and time. It should not lead to an infinite loop. The instructions should be generic, simple yet practical which can execute on available resources.

The word algorithm is derived from the name of a renowned mathematician called Muhammad Ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī. The algorithm has existed since ancient times. Right from 2500 BC, mathematicians of Babylonian have used arithmetic algorithms. The algorithm aims to help in performing the task and get the desired output. Since the algorithm is just steps of instructions, they are language-independent and can be translated to any other language.

An example of an algorithm in a simple way would be a recipe book that contains all the procedures in a sequential format. A prototypical example is that of the Euclidean algorithm, which determines the maximum common divisor of two integers.

Main Differences Between Pseudocode and Algorithm

  1. Pseudocode provides an outline of the flow of the program while algorithm provides the procedure in which the program would be carried out to get the expected output.
  2. Pseudocode is easy to write and understand while the algorithm is time-consuming to create.
  3. Pseudocode is the basis of algorithm while algorithm is the basis of any programming language.
  4. Pseudocode offers explanation of the algorithm while algorithm offers the solution for the problem statement.
  5. Pseudocode is helpful in comprehending the idea of the program while algorithm is helpful in comprehending the execution of the program.


Pseudocode and algorithms are tools that help in creating computer programs in different programming languages. While both seem similar, they have distinct differences. Pseudocode is a description of an algorithm and helps in the creation and development of the algorithm while the algorithm is a step of procedures that help in the execution of the program.

Pseudocode is neither a program nor written in form of specific syntax. It is written to depict the flow of the program while the algorithm evaluates a problem in the programming language and depicts a set of instructions to solve and simplify the problem. Both the tools help in understanding the flow of the program but have different applications.


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/35587/
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