I'm struggling to understand what the difference is between a computational and a numerical algorithm.

On Wikipedia, Monte Carlo methods fall under the rubric of computational algorithms; however the Newton-Raphson method is described as a numerical algorithm.

Both algorithms can be (i) run on a computer, (ii) involve calculations, (iii) and are iterative. The only broad distinction is that MC requires the simulation of random numbers (which we often designate to computers).

Can someone demystify this distinction in definitions?

N.B. I'm not sure what the correct tags for this question should be - I typed in "nomenclature" but it wasnt listed. Editors feel free to edit the tags.

References :

  • $\begingroup$ To be honest this is not an especially useful distinction. $\endgroup$
    – Ian
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yet their article on Monte Carlo integration deems that numerical. You can't always expect every author of all articles on the subject to use the same terminology in the same way. $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't say there's a difference. Neither "numerical algorithm" nor "computational algorithm" is a very well-defined term anyway.


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