Algorithms are sets of instructions for calculations and other operations that solve problems. Since the ancient Babylonians inscribed simple algorithms on clay tablets to track their grain and livestock, algorithms have played an important role in the foundation of fields such as mathematics, physics, and computer science.
The algorithms used in computer science today are increasingly sophisticated and responsible for shaping our worldview. Google search algorithms and those used across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube deliver results based on previous searches and data. Applied effectively, algorithms dictate the information we receive.
Algorithms can be simple, such as the ubiquitous sort algorithm or binary search in data structures, or extremely complex, such as the financial industry’s algorithmic trading, which facilitates machine learning using predictive analytics.
A skilled algorithm developer is an asset to any organization that runs a computer program or gathers and mines data. Bug-free programming code reduces a company’s overall coding costs and improves accuracy. Organizations across a variety of industries seek candidates with computer science degrees and the fundamental skill sets required to work as algorithm developers.
What does an algorithm developer do?
Algorithm developers are critical thinkers whose work has become an integral part of innovations in computer science. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing are examples of technological advancements made possible using algorithm development.
Algorithm developers create and fix code by employing logic and reasoning. Their primary role is to solve computational problems by researching, designing, and testing sequences. Developers debug code; work to simplify computing tasks to improve efficiency; and use data structures to manage and manipulate search engines, file systems, operating systems, and compilers.
In the age of big data, algorithm developers break down large datasets into more manageable pieces that organizations can monetize or leverage for new lines of business. To achieve that goal, algorithm developers consider a variety of concepts related to computer science, such as database management, operating systems, network security, and artificial intelligence.
Fundamental skills for algorithm developers
Algorithm developers rely on certain foundational skills. They are proficient at complex mathematical concepts, are prolific computer programmers, and typically have an advanced understanding of a variety of programming languages. Depending on the organization, in-depth knowledge of programming languages such as C++ and Python may be preferred to having a limited knowledge of many languages.
Algorithm developers are well-versed in a variety of programming languages such as Python, C++, Java, R, Prolog, Lisp, Haskell, and Julia. They navigate toward certain languages for their community support, libraries, user friendliness, ability to manage large numbers, and ease in handling errors.
Technical and analytical competencies
As part of information technology’s tech talent, algorithm developers create and improve software. These developers write code that tells a computer what to do using systematic problem-solving. Algorithms are shortcuts that produce an intended output. Algorithm developers must possess computational aptitude, a mindset for managing code, and a vision for the intended result.
Because algorithm developers often work with other programmers and stakeholders, they should possess interpersonal skills and be able to communicate effectively.
Collaborating with others within and outside IT also is a key aspect of this position. Well-rounded developers can explain an algorithm’s functional components to those without tech training. Another valuable soft skill for algorithm developers is balancing patience with persistence while focusing on innovating ways to solve problems.
Algorithm developer salary information
Algorithm developers are well-compensated. PayScale.com reports that the median annual salary typically associated with algorithm developers was around $109,000 as of April 2021. Algorithm developers’ earnings may vary less based on factors such as education level, location, and years of experience. The size of the market also plays a part in a developer’s earning potential.
Advanced roles in computer and information research science, which typically require a master’s degree, also involve work with complex algorithms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for computer and information research scientists in May 2020 was $126,830. Computer scientists working for software publishers made $145,920, while those in research and development organizations earned $140,000.
An essential role now and for the future
Navigating and monetizing big data is an important aspect of the future of computer science. Developers’ strategic use of algorithms is a fundamental building block to advancements in artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and data mining.
With courses such as Database Design, Project Management, Operating Systems, and Data Structure and Algorithms, Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program offers the foundation you’ll need to work at the field’s leading edge. Take the first brave step toward a career in algorithm development with Maryville.