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What is Computational Thinking? Algorithmic Thinking

A chess playing robot

The part of the Computational Thinking skill set that is very distinctively what computer science is about is algorithmic thinking.

Some problems are one-offs. You solve them, apply the solution and move on. Algorithmic thinking needs to kick in when similar problems have to be solved over and over again. You don't want to have to think it through anew every time. You want a solution that works every time.

Algorithmic thinking is important for many "strategy" board games. Ideally you want to come up with a strategy that is guaranteed to win, or at least never lose. All such a strategy is is a set of rules that tell you what to do at each step without thinking: what computer scientists call an algorithm. If you can create such a set of rules, not only could it be the basis of you playing well, but also of a computer program that plays well. Even your granny or kid brother should be able to play a perfect game by following your rules!

Algorithmic thinking is the ability to think in terms of such algorithms as a way of solving problems. It is a core skill people develop when they learn to write their own computer programs. Do some algorithmic thinking of your own: Win at Noughts and Crosses