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Appendix A Algorithms

Computer programs, bicycle assembly instructions, knitting instructions, and recipes all have several things in common. They all tell us how to do something; and the usual format is as a list of steps or instructions. In addition, they are usually prefaced with a description of the raw materials that are needed (the input) to produce the end result (the output). We use the term algorithm to describe such lists of instructions. We assume that the reader may be unfamiliar with algorithms, so the first section of this appendix will introduce some of the components of the algorithms that appear in this book. Since we would like our algorithms to become computer programs in many cases, the notation will resemble a computer language such as Python or Sage; but our notation will be slightly less formal. In some cases we will also translate the pseudocode to Sage. Our goal will be to give mathematically correct descriptions of how to accomplish certain tasks. To this end, the second section of this appendix is an introduction to the Invariant Relation Theorem, which is a mechanism for algorithm verification that is related to Mathematical Induction