Flow Chart

What Does Flow Chart Mean?

A flow chart is a visually descriptive overview or diagram used to express sequential actions related to some process or algorithm. In computer programming, a flow chart is used to show a sequential relationship between two or more functions of an algorithm. A flow chart displays process operations in individually represented boxes, while sequential relationships are illustrated by arrows between two or more boxes. Flow charts are ultimately used to implement programming processes and procedures.


A flow chart may also be referred to as a flow process chart and may also be spelled as “flowchart.”

Techopedia Explains Flow Chart

In 1921, Frank Gilbert was credited with formulating the flow process chart, which was first presented to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In the 1930s, industrialist Allan Mogensen found the flow process chart applicable to industry and business. Mogenson launched educational sessions and taught students how to use the flow process chart. In 1947, Douglas Hartree explained that the collaborative work between Herman Goldstine and John Von Neumann led to the development of flow chart applications in the computer programming field. Flow charts were then applied as a technique for simplifying computer algorithms.

Since then, flow charts have developed and become more complex, leading to the formulation of unified modeling language activity diagrams. Interactive computer terminals decreased the importance of flow charts by offering a high readability algorithm.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.