I have developed an algorithm that performs at least as well as others in the field, but it is much simpler. That is to say, it does not depend on complicated models or advanced mathematics and is more straightforward.

When writing it up, I would like to call the method "simple," but I feel like it can also mean "unsophisticated." Is there a word that means "uncomplicated" or "simple" but has a positive connotation? I am tempted to use "elegant," but to call one's own algorithm elegant seems inappropriate.

Example sentence:

"We present a simple method for , which outperforms on several metrics."

  • Doesn't uncomplicated have generally positive connotations? – Sven Yargs Aug 18 '18 at 23:20
  • Concise and elegant best describes your algorithm. – Ubi hatt Aug 19 '18 at 10:44

If your main achievement was to solve a problem more efficiently by eliminating the complexity found in existing algorithms, you could focus on the process (what you did) rather than the end state, e.g.

  • a radically simplified algorithm,
  • a computationally optimized algorithm,
  • a generalized and highly efficient algorithm (or specialized if that was the case),
  • a zero-redundancy algorithm, implying that you eliminated redundant calculations from the original approaches.

It’s a hard fact of life that simple and elegant solutions are seen as “obvious”, regardless of how difficult they were to figure out.

However, if your solution really is simple and elegant, you should use those exact words. Don’t be afraid to state your worth plainly.


'Simple', in this context, has a slightly positive connotation. There is a common error amongst the pretentious to use the negative 'simplistic' in this sense. Similarly, such people might incorrectly use 'generalist' for 'general' or 'fulsomely' for 'fully'.


You include a good substitute in your post: ''straightforward.''

Merriam-Webster defines the word this way:

a. free from evasiveness or obscurity; exact, candid.

b. clear-cut, precise.

(Merriam Webster)

The synonym ''clear-cut'' would work well in this context, as well.


You could call it a concise algorithm:


: marked by brevity of expression or statement : free from all elaboration and superfluous detail • a concise report • a concise definition

a concise article on violence in the media that manages to say more than most books on the subject

protected by tchrist Aug 20 '18 at 19:54

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