Iteration Examples in Real Life and Computer Programming

Updated November 7, 2020
Musicians creating a song as iteration examples

Iteration is defined as the act or process of repeating. For example, iteration can include repetition of a sequence of operations in order to get ever closer to a desired result. Iteration can also refer to a process wherein a computer program is instructed to perform a process over and over again repeatedly for a specific number of times or until a specific condition has been met.

Understanding Iteration

There are lots of different ways that iteration is used in the corporate world. Here are some iteration examples:

  • Apple has released multiple different versions of each model of its iPod products. The Nano, for example, has evolved from an original slim mP3 player with a very small screen to a tiny square touch-screen version to a longer, thinner touch screen version. It evolved from a device that could only play mp3 music files to a work-out device that has a special Nike Ap to track workouts and to a device that plays music. Each of these different versions is a different iteration of the same product. The goal is to find the perfect combination of features that will please customers and provide the desired services in the right package.
  • Coke has experimented with different formulations of its popular Coca Cola product, including the failed New Coke iteration. The aim is to achieve the best tasting product that customers like.
  • A company that is operating a factory or assembly line may experiment with different methods of arranging the assembly line or with different production methods. Each time the production process is changed, this is a different iteration. Each time the order of operations and procedures are changed, this is a different iteration. The goal is to achieve the fastest, best and most optimal method of creating a product.
  • A musician may start with one version of a song and refine it, making changes to a note here and there or changing the tempo and speed. Many different iterations of a song may be created this way until the optimal finished product has been created that sounds and works the best.
  • A cook may experiment with a recipe, tweaking the ingredients or changing different steps of the process slightly until the food tastes as good as it possibly can.
  • Microsoft has released multiple versions of the Windows operating system to add functionality for users and to correct bugs. Each different version is a different iteration of its operating system and the goal is for the next iteration to be better than the last.

Iteration in Computer Programming

Iteration is also a technical term that relates to repeating a sequence or series of instructions over-and-over. When the computer receives these repeated instructions, it continues to complete the process until a designated event occurs or until the desired number of repetitions is over.

For example:

  • A website could have HTML code that tells it to repeatedly refresh the page until the user presses a button.
  • An algorithm can be used in a computer program that tells the program to rearrange a series of letters until all of the different combinations have been formed.
  • A javascript instruction can tell the computer to draw a series of asterisks creating a "start tree." The number of asterisks the computer draws can be determined by the number that a user inputs.

There will be different iterations used depending upon what process you want the computer to continue to perform.