` COMPUTE! ISSUE 50 / JULY 1984 / PAGE 6`

 READERS' FEEDBACK The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE! What's An Algorithm? I have frequently seen the word algorithm and would like to know what it means. I've also heard that you should have a voltage spike protector, because when appliances are turned on, they can produce a surge in the electricity in your house. Is it absolutely necessary to have one? Andrew S. Hartman An algorithm is a set of steps or relationships which, taken as a whole, solve a problem. For example, regular pay = regular hours * regular rate of pay is a standard algorithm that might be found in a payroll program. Or: 1. Have user INPUT his height 2. Look up correct weight for this height. This would be an algorithm for telling people how much they should weigh. Using a voltage spike protector couldn't hurt. The electricity in the average home is subject to periodic surges from various sources. A lightning strike, for example, can introduce very high voltage for a few microseconds. If you see the lights in your house flickering often, you may need one. On the other hand, many people have operated their unprotected microcomputers for years without any problems. A spike protector is a kind of insurance.