Flow Charts

Flowchart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A flowchart is a type of diagram that represents an algorithm or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting them with arrows. This diagrammatic representation can give a step-by-step solution to a given problem. Process operations are represented in these boxes, and arrows connecting them represent flow of control. Data flows are not typically represented in a flowchart, in contrast with data flow diagrams; rather, they are implied by the sequencing of operations. Flowcharts are used in analyzing, designing, documenting or managing a process or program in various fields.[1]

Overview

Flowcharts are used in designing and documenting complex processes or programs. Like other types of diagram, they help visualize what is going on and thereby help the viewer to understand a process, and perhaps also find flaws, bottlenecks, and other less-obvious features within it. There are many different types of flowcharts, and each type has its own repertoire of boxes and notational conventions. The two most common types of boxes in a flowchart are:

  • a processing step, usually called activity, and denoted as a rectangular box
  • a decision, usually denoted as a diamond.

A flowchart is described as "cross-functional" when the page is divided into different swimlanes describing the control of different organizational units. A symbol appearing in a particular "lane" is within the control of that organizational unit. This technique allows the author to locate the responsibility for performing an action or making a decision correctly, showing the responsibility of each organizational unit for different parts of a single process.

Flowcharts depict certain aspects of processes and they are usually complemented by other types of diagram. For instance, Kaoru Ishikawa defined the flowchart as one of the seven basic tools of quality control, next to the histogram, Pareto chart, check sheet, control chart, cause-and-effect diagram, and the scatter diagram. Similarly, in UML, a standard concept-modeling notation used in software development, the activity diagram, which is a type of flowchart, is just one of many different diagram types.

Nassi-Shneiderman diagrams are an alternative notation for process flow.

Common alternate names include: flowchart, process flowchart, functional flowchart, process map, process chart, functional process chart, business process model, process model, process flow diagram, work flow diagram, business flow diagram. The terms "flowchart" and "flow chart" are used interchangeably.

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