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Welcome to this British English reading and listening comprehension exercise, designed to help you improve your English language reading and listening skills as well as your vocabulary and grammar. In this lesson, we will explore the topic of Algorithms. As you read the text, Algorithms, pay close attention to vocabulary and content as after reading or listening, you will test your understanding of Algorithms with multiple-choice questions. This exercise will not only enhance your reading and listening comprehension but also provide you with valuable knowledge about Algorithms. Good luck and enjoy the exercises!

Algorithms are step-by-step procedures or sets of rules used to solve problems or perform specific tasks. With a history that spans thousands of years, algorithms have played a crucial role in the development of mathematical and computational systems. From the earliest instances in Ancient Babylon to the contributions of Greek mathematicians like Euclid and Persian scholars such as Al-Khwarizmi, algorithms have evolved significantly over time. Today, they have become an integral part of our daily lives, shaping the digital landscape in areas such as search engines, social media platforms, e-commerce, finance, and navigation. As our understanding of algorithms continues to grow, they will undoubtedly offer new opportunities and challenges for future generations.


Algorithms are an essential part of our modern digital world. They are responsible for the functionality of most of the technologies we use every day, from search engines and social media platforms to GPS navigation and banking systems. In this article, we will explore the history, basics, and impact of algorithms on our lives, providing a comprehensive understanding for English language learners.

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure or set of rules that solves a particular problem or performs a specific task. It is a structured, logical approach used by computers and humans to process information and make decisions. Algorithms can be simple, such as the steps to make a cup of tea, or complex, like those that govern artificial intelligence systems.

History of Algorithms

Algorithms have a rich and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. Some of the earliest known algorithms were used in ancient civilizations for mathematical computations and problem-solving.

Ancient Babylon: One of the first recorded instances of an algorithm dates back to 1800 BCE in Babylon. Babylonians used algorithms to solve mathematical problems related to inheritance, land division, and trade.

Ancient Greece: Greek mathematicians, such as Euclid, contributed significantly to the development of algorithms. Euclid's algorithm, created around 300 BCE, is one of the oldest and most well-known examples. It was used to determine the greatest common divisor of two numbers.

The Middle Ages: During the Middle Ages, mathematicians and scholars from the Islamic world further developed algorithms. The Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, considered the "father of algebra," introduced a systematic approach to solving linear and quadratic equations. His work influenced European scholars and laid the foundation for modern algebra.

The Renaissance and Beyond: In the 17th century, Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton developed the calculus, a mathematical framework that required the use of algorithms for problem-solving. This period also saw the invention of the logarithm by John Napier, which simplified complex calculations.

The 20th Century: The advent of computers revolutionized the use of algorithms. In the mid-20th century, Alan Turing and other pioneers of computer science laid the groundwork for the development of modern algorithms. Today, algorithms play an essential role in computer programming, data processing, and artificial intelligence.

The Impact of Algorithms

Algorithms have a significant impact on our daily lives, shaping the digital world and how we interact with it. Here are some examples of algorithms in action:

Search Engines: Search engines like Google use complex algorithms to provide users with the most relevant and useful results for their queries. These algorithms consider factors such as keywords, website authority, and user behaviour.

Social Media: Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use algorithms to curate content, displaying posts and updates based on factors such as user preferences, engagement, and connections.

E-commerce: Online retailers like Amazon use algorithms to analyse customer behaviour, tailor product recommendations, and optimize pricing strategies.

Finance: Algorithms play a crucial role in banking, investment, and risk assessment. High-frequency trading and fraud detection are just two examples of how algorithms have revolutionized the financial sector.

Navigation: GPS systems rely on algorithms to provide real-time directions and traffic updates, making our lives more convenient and efficient.


Algorithms have come a long way since their inception in ancient civilizations. Today, they are an integral part of our daily lives, shaping the digital landscape and helping us navigate the complexities of modern life. As our understanding of algorithms continues to grow, so too will their impact on our world, offering new opportunities and challenges for future generations.

/ ˌɪn.trə.ˈdʌk.ʃn̩ /

/ ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz ər ən ɪ.ˈsen.ʃl̩ pɑːt əv ˈaʊə ˈmɒd.n̩ ˈdɪ.dʒɪt.l̩ wɜːld / ˈðeɪ ə rɪ.ˈspɒn.səb.l̩ fə ðə ˌfʌŋk.ʃə.ˈnæ.lə.ti əv məʊst əv ðə tek.ˈnɒ.lə.dʒɪz wi ˈjuːz ˈev.ri ˈdeɪ / frəm sɜːtʃ ˈen.dʒɪnz ənd ˈsəʊʃ.l̩ ˈmiː.dɪə ˈplæt.fɔːmz tə dʒiː ˈpiː ˈes ˌnæ.vɪ.ˈɡeɪʃ.n̩ ənd bæŋkɪŋ ˈsɪ.stəmz / ɪn ðɪs ˈɑː.tɪk.l̩ / wi wl̩ ɪk.ˈsplɔː ðə ˈhɪ.str̩i / ˈbeɪ.sɪks / ənd ɪm.ˈpækt əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz ɒn ˈaʊə laɪvz / prə.ˈvaɪd.ɪŋ ə ˌkɒm.prɪ.ˈhen.sɪv ˌʌn.də.ˈstænd.ɪŋ fər ˈɪŋ.ɡlɪʃ ˈlæŋ.ɡwɪdʒ ˈlɜː.nəz /

/ ˈwɒt s ən ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəm /

/ ən ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəm z ə step baɪ step prə.ˈsiː.dʒər ɔː set əv ruːlz ðət sɒlvz ə pə.ˈtɪ.kjʊ.lə ˈprɒ.bləm ɔː pə.ˈfɔːmz ə spə.ˈsɪ.fɪk tɑːsk / ˈɪt s ə ˈstrʌk.tʃəd / ˈlɒ.dʒɪk.l̩ ə.ˈprəʊtʃ ˈjuːzd baɪ kəm.ˈpjuː.təz ənd ˈhjuː.mənz tə ˈprəʊ.ses ˌɪn.fə.ˈmeɪʃ.n̩ ənd ˈmeɪk dɪ.ˈsɪʒ.n̩z / ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz kən bi ˈsɪ̩ / sʌtʃ əz ðə steps tə ˈmeɪk ə kʌp əv tiː / ɔː ˈkɒm.pleks / ˈlaɪk ðəʊz ðət ˈɡʌv.n̩ ˌɑ:tɪ.ˌfɪʃl ɪn.ˈte.lɪ.dʒəns ˈsɪ.stəmz / 

/ ˈhɪ.str̩i əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz /

/ ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz həv ə rɪtʃ ənd ˈfæ.sɪ.neɪt.ɪŋ ˈhɪ.str̩i ðət spænz ˈθaʊz.n̩dz əv ˈjiəz / səm əv ði ˈɜː.lɪɪst nəʊn ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz wə juːst ɪn ˈeɪn.ʃənt ˌsɪ.vɪ.laɪ.ˈzeɪʃ.n̩z fə ˌmæ.θə.ˈmæ.tɪk.l̩ ˌkɒm.pjʊ.ˈteɪʃ.n̩z ənd ˈprɒ.bləm ˈsɒlv.ɪŋ /

/ ˈeɪn.ʃənt ˈbæ.bɪ.lən / wʌn əv ðə ˈfɜːst rɪˈk.ɔː.dɪd ˈɪn.stən.sɪz əv ən ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəm deɪts ˈbæk tə wʌn ˈθaʊz.n̩d eɪt ˈhʌn.drəd biː siː iː ɪn ˈbæ.bɪ.lən / ˌbæ.bə.ˈləʊ.niənz ˈjuːzd ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz tə sɒlv ˌmæ.θə.ˈmæ.tɪk.l̩ ˈprɒ.bləmz rɪ.ˈleɪ.tɪd tu ɪn.ˈhe.rɪ.təns / lænd dɪ.ˈvɪʒ.n̩ / ənd treɪd /

/ ˈeɪn.ʃənt ˈɡriːs / ˈɡriːk ˌmæ.θə.mə.ˈtɪʃ.n̩z / sʌtʃ əz ˈjuː.kləd / kən.ˈtrɪ.bjuː.tɪd sɪɡ.ˈnɪ.fɪk.ə tə ðə dɪ.ˈve.ləp.mənt əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz / ˈjuː.klədɪz ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəm / kriː.ˈeɪ.tɪd ə.ˈraʊnd θriː ˈhʌn.drəd biː siː iː / ɪz wʌn əv ði ˈəʊl.dɪst ənd məʊst ˈwel nəʊn ɪɡ.ˈzɑːmp.l̩z / ˈɪt wəz ˈjuːst tə dɪ.ˈtɜː.mɪn ðə ˈɡreɪt.ɪst ˈkɒ.mən dɪ.ˈvaɪ.zər əv ˈtuː ˈnʌm.bəz /

/ ðə ˈmɪd.l̩ ˈeɪ.dʒɪz / ˈdjʊər.ɪŋ ðə ˈmɪd.l̩ ˈeɪ.dʒɪz / ˌmæ.θə.mə.ˈtɪʃ.n̩z ənd ˈskɒ.ləz frəm ði ɪz.ˈlæ.mɪk wɜːld ˈfɜː.ðə dɪ.ˈve.ləpt ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz / ðə ˈpɜːʃ.n̩ ˌmæ.θə.mə.ˈtɪʃ.n̩ ælˌkwɒrɪzˈmi / kən.ˈsɪ.dəd ðə ˈfɑːð.ər əv ˈæl.dʒɪ.brə / ˌɪn.trə.ˈdjuːst ə ˌsɪ.stə.ˈmæ.tɪk ə.ˈprəʊtʃ tə ˈsɒlv.ɪŋ ˈlɪ.nɪər ənd kwɒ.ˈdræ.tɪk ɪ.ˈkweɪʒ.n̩z / hɪz ˈwɜːk ˈɪn.flʊənst ˌjʊə.rə.ˈpɪən ˈskɒ.ləz ənd leɪd ðə faʊn.ˈdeɪʃ.n̩ fə ˈmɒd.n̩ ˈæl.dʒɪ.brə /

/ ðə rɪ.ˈneɪsns ənd bɪ.ˈjɒnd / ɪn ðə ˌsevn.ˈtiːnθ ˈsen.tʃə.ri / ˈɡɒt.frid ˈliːb.ˌnɪz ənd ˈaɪ.zək ˈnjuː.tən dɪ.ˈve.ləpt ðə ˈkæl.kjʊ.ləs / ə ˌmæ.θə.ˈmæ.tɪk.l̩ ˈfreɪm.wɜːk ðət rɪ.ˈkwaɪəd ðə ˈjuːs əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz fə ˈprɒ.bləm ˈsɒlv.ɪŋ / ðɪs ˈpɪə.rɪəd ˈɔːls.əʊ ˈsɔː ði ɪn.ˈven.ʃn̩ əv ðə ˈlɒ.ɡə.rɪ.ðəm baɪ dʒɒn ˈneɪ.piə / wɪtʃ ˈsɪm.plɪ.faɪd ˈkɒm.pleks ˌkæl.kjʊ.ˈleɪʃ.n̩z /

/ ðə ˈtwen.tɪəθ ˈsen.tʃə.ri / ði ˈæd.vent əv kəm.ˈpjuː.təz ˌre.və.ˈluː.ʃə.naɪzd ðə ˈjuːs əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz / ɪn ðə mɪd ˈtwen.tɪəθ ˈsen.tʃə.ri / ˈæ.lən ˈtʊr.ɪŋ ənd ˈʌð.ə ˌpaɪə.ˈnɪəz əv kəm.ˈpjuː.tə ˈsaɪəns leɪd ðə ˈɡraʊn.dwɜːk fə ðə dɪ.ˈve.ləp.mənt əv ˈmɒd.n̩ ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz / tə.ˈdeɪ / ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz ˈpleɪ ən ɪ.ˈsen.ʃl̩ rəʊl ɪn kəm.ˈpjuː.tə ˈprəʊ.ɡræm.ɪŋ / ˈdeɪt.ə ˈprəʊ.ses.ɪŋ / ənd ˌɑ:tɪ.ˌfɪʃl ɪn.ˈte.lɪ.dʒəns / 

/ ði ɪm.ˈpækt əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz /

/ ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz həv ə sɪɡ.ˈnɪ.fɪkənt ɪm.ˈpækt ɒn ˈaʊə ˈdeɪ.li laɪvz / ˈʃeɪp.ɪŋ ðə ˈdɪ.dʒɪt.l̩ wɜːld ənd ˈhaʊ wi ˌɪn.tə.ˈrækt wɪð ˈɪt / hɪər ə səm ɪɡ.ˈzɑːmp.l̩z əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz ɪn ˈæk.ʃn̩ /

/ sɜːtʃ ˈen.dʒɪnz / sɜːtʃ ˈen.dʒɪnz ˈlaɪk ˈɡuː.ɡəl ˈjuːs ˈkɒm.pleks ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz tə prə.ˈvaɪd ˈjuːz.əz wɪð ðə məʊst ˈre.lə.vənt ənd ˈjuː.sfəl rɪ.ˈzʌlts fə ðeə ˈkwɪə.rɪz / ðiːz ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz kən.ˈsɪ.də ˈfæk.təz sʌtʃ əz ˈkiː.wɜːdz / ˈweb.saɪt ɔː.ˈθɒ.rə.ti / ənd ˈjuːz.ə bɪ.ˈheɪ.vjə /

/ ˈsəʊʃ.l̩ ˈmiː.dɪə / ˈsəʊʃ.l̩ ˈmiː.dɪə ˈplæt.fɔːmz ˈlaɪk ˈfeɪs.bʊk ənd ˈtwɪ.tə ˈjuːs ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz tə ˈkjʊə.rət kən.ˈtent / dɪ.ˈspleɪ.ɪŋ pəʊsts ənd ˌʌp.ˈdeɪts beɪst ɒn ˈfæk.təz sʌtʃ əz ˈjuːz.ə ˈpre.frən.sɪz / ɪn.ˈɡeɪdʒ.mənt / ənd kə.ˈnek.ʃn̩z /

/ iː.ˈkɒ.mɜːs / ˈɒn.ˌlaɪn ˈriː.teɪ.ləz ˈlaɪk ˈæ.mə.zən ˈjuːs ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz tu ˈæ.nə.laɪz ˈkʌ.stə.mə bɪ.ˈheɪ.vjə / ˈteɪ.lə ˈprɒ.dʌkt ˌrek.ə.men.ˈdeɪʃ.n̩z / ənd ˈɑːp.tə.ˌmaɪz ˈpraɪs.ɪŋ ˈstræ.tə.dʒɪz /

/ ˈfaɪ.næns / ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz ˈpleɪ ə ˈkruːʃ.l̩ rəʊl ɪn bæŋkɪŋ / ɪn.ˈvest.mənt / ənd rɪsk ə.ˈse.smənt / haɪ ˈfriː.kwə ˈtreɪd.ɪŋ ənd frɔːd dɪ.ˈtek.ʃn̩ ə dʒəst ˈtuː ɪɡ.ˈzɑːmp.l̩z əv ˈhaʊ ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz həv ˌre.və.ˈluː.ʃə.naɪzd ðə faɪ.ˈnæn.ʃl̩ ˈsek.tə /

/ ˌnæ.vɪ.ˈɡeɪʃ.n̩ / dʒiː ˈpiː ˈes ˈsɪ.stəmz rɪ.ˈlaɪ ɒn ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz tə prə.ˈvaɪd rɪəl ˈtaɪm dɪ.ˈrek.ʃn̩z ənd ˈtræ.fɪk ˌʌp.ˈdeɪts / ˈmeɪk.ɪŋ ˈaʊə laɪvz mɔː kən.ˈviː.nɪənt ənd ɪ.ˈfɪʃnt /

/ kən.ˈkluːʒ.n̩ /

/ ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz həv ˈkʌm ə ˈlɒŋ ˈweɪ sɪns ðeər ɪn.ˈsep.ʃn̩ ɪn ˈeɪn.ʃənt ˌsɪ.vɪ.laɪ.ˈzeɪʃ.n̩z / tə.ˈdeɪ / ˈðeɪ ər ən ˈɪn.tɪ.ɡrəl pɑːt əv ˈaʊə ˈdeɪ.li laɪvz / ˈʃeɪp.ɪŋ ðə ˈdɪ.dʒɪt.l̩ ˈlænd.skeɪp ənd ˈhelp.ɪŋ əz ˈnæ.vɪ.ɡeɪt ðə kəm.ˈplek.sɪ.tɪz əv ˈmɒd.n̩ laɪf / əz ˈaʊər ˌʌn.də.ˈstænd.ɪŋ əv ˈæl.ɡə.ˌrɪ.ðəmz kən.ˈtɪ.njuːz tə ɡrəʊ / ˈsəʊ tuː wl̩ ðeər ɪm.ˈpækt ɒn ˈaʊə wɜːld / ˈɒ.fər.ɪŋ njuː ˌɒ.pə.ˈtjuː.nɪ.tɪz ənd ˈtʃæ.lən.dʒɪz fə ˈfjuː.tʃə ˌdʒen.ə.ˈreɪʃ.n̩z /

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Algorithms Comprehension Questions

To read the text, click the Readings button above. To listen to the audio, click the Audio button above. To read the IPA transcript, click the IPA Script button above. See if you can answer the comprehension questions below.

1. What is an algorithm?

2. Which ancient civilization was known to use algorithms for mathematical computations and problem-solving?

3. Who is considered the "father of algebra"?

4. What was the purpose of Euclid's algorithm?

5. Which mathematical concept was developed by Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton?

6. What is the role of algorithms in search engines like Google?

7. How do social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use algorithms?

8. In which sector are algorithms used for high-frequency trading and fraud detection?

9. What is the primary function of algorithms in GPS systems?

10. How have algorithms evolved since their inception in ancient civilizations?

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