algorithm \AL-guh-RITH-uhm\ (noun) - A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps that often involves repetition of an operation.
"Their latest innovation involved some kind of complex algorithm that made the eyes of anyone with an IQ of less than 200 glaze over with incomprehension but was reckoned by the company to be a surefire thing." -- John Connolly, 'The Killing Kind'
Algorithm is an alteration of algorism, possibly influenced by arithmetic. It comes to us from the Arabic name of a ninth century Persian mathematician and textbook author, via Old French and Medieval Latin: Muhammad ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi was from the Khwarizm region, an area south of the Aral Sea. Al-Khwarizmi wrote a book titled Kitab al jabr wa'l-muqabala ("Rules of restoring and equating") which is the source of the word algebra.