Pseudocode is a compact and informal high-level description of a computer programming algorithm that uses the structural conventions of a programming language, but is intended for human reading rather than machine reading. Pseudocode typically omits details that are not essential for human understanding of the algorithm, such as variable declarations, system-specific code and subroutines. The programming language is augmented with natural language descriptions of the details, where convenient, or with compact mathematical notation. The purpose of using pseudocode is that it is easier for humans to understand than conventional programming language code, and that it is an efficient and environment-independent description of the key principles of an algorithm. It is commonly used in textbooks and scientific publications that are documenting various algorithms, and also in planning of computer program development, for sketching out the structure of the program before the actual coding takes place.

No standard for pseudocode syntax exists, as a program in pseudocode is not an executable program. Pseudocode resembles, but should not be confused with, skeleton programs including dummy code, which can be compiled without errors. Flowcharts and UML charts can be thought of as a graphical alternative to pseudocode, but are more spacious on paper.

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