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Nondeterministic Algorithm

Definition - What does Nondeterministic Algorithm mean?

A nondeterministic algorithm can provide different outputs for the same input on different executions. Unlike a deterministic algorithm which produces only a single output for the same input even on different runs, a nondeterministic algorithm travels in various routes to arrive at the different outcomes. Nondeterministic algorithms are useful for finding approximate solutions, when an exact solution is difficult or expensive to derive using a deterministic algorithm.

Techopedia explains Nondeterministic Algorithm

One example of a nondeterministic algorithm is the execution of concurrent algorithms with race conditions, which can exhibit different outputs on different runs. Unlike a deterministic algorithm which travels a single path from input to output, a nondeterministic algorithm can take many paths, with some arriving at the same outputs, and others arriving at different outputs. This feature is mathematically used in nondeterministic computation models like nondeterministic finite automaton.

A nondeterministic algorithm is capable of execution on a deterministic computer which has an unlimited number of parallel processors. A nondeterministic algorithm usually has two phases and output steps. The first phase is the guessing phase, which makes use of arbitrary characters to run the problem. The second phase is the verifying phase, which returns true or false for the chosen string. There are many problems which can be conceptualized with help of nondeterministic algorithms including the unresolved problem of P vs NP in computing theory. Nondeterministic algorithms are used in solving problems which allow multiple outcomes. Every outcome the nondeterministic algorithm produces is valid, regardless of the choices made by the algorithm during execution.

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