I'm currently writing my PhD thesis in computer science and often need to refer to algorithms, which are depicted in figures as shown below.

Example algorithm

So far, I used phrases such as Algorithm X shows / depicts / presents Euclid's algorithm. However, I do not want to use these three phrases over and over again and I'm running out of ideas.

My question, therefore, is: What is an elegant way to refer to a figure displaying an algorithm?

  • 1
    The normal way is to refer to figures: This is clearly seen in Euclid's algorithm (figure 1) // Dan's algorithm (fig 38) is used for working out the best way of formatting text. Mar 22, 2013 at 10:10

6 Answers 6


Maybe your best bet would be to move away from regarding your "figures" as images (especially "shows" and "depicts" tell me that you're thinking of images) and instead describe the content.

This could be "old-fashioned" by now, but I seem to remember references to code being called "listings" in books and magazines rather than "figures" (after all, it's not just a picture to look at, it's something listing lines of code to read and study).

Once you've done that, you can begin to describe the code content rather than how it is shown. Hence, you could use a much wider range of phrases. Just some examples:

  • The algorithm in Listing x solves the problem of...
  • Listing x: An alternate strategy/method/technique to...
  • As demonstrated in this listing, it is possible to...
  • To tackle the problem of [...], Mr A used a more direct approach (see Listing x)
  • An unorthodox approach ends up being a more elegant solution (Listing x)

More elaborate wording can sometimes distract from a bit of repetition. If you think about what you're trying to demonstrate to the reader, I'm sure you'll come up with many more alternate ways of phrasing it in no time.

  • +1 for listings. LaTeX uses the term listings for it's code embedding package and embedded code.
    – ffledgling
    Mar 23, 2013 at 11:10

"Describes" or "Outlines", as in

Listing X outlines Euclid's algorithm.

Also, +1 to @aaamos's answer, especially "depict".

Whatever you choose, you will probably be repeating it a lot in a thesis; don't worry about it - it's not like you'd say "All this 'the' stuff is getting reptitive, what's another definitive article?".


I can't seem to think of a lot other ways to say this either, but this might be useful:

Algorithm X is the pseudo-code/are the steps for Euclid's Algorithm.

(If it is actually pseudo code/steps)


Other words you can use are:-

  1. Illustrates

  2. Exemplifies

  3. Demonstrates

  4. Represents

  5. Explains

  6. Details

You could also use "expounds" if your depiction indeed expounds on the original algorithm.

  • Instantiates. Performs. Carries out. Mar 22, 2013 at 14:04

You may have possibility of using the terms approach and method.


If the depiction is pseudo-code, then you could use the phrase "Algorithm X is an implementation of Euclid's algorithm".

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