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Algorithmic trading (automated trading, black-box trading, or algotrading) is the process of using computers programmed to follow a defined set of instructions for placing a trade in order to generate profits at a speed and frequency that is impossible for a human trader.

The sets of rules are based on timing, price, quantity or any mathematical model.

Algotrading may be used in any investment strategy, including market making, inter-market spreading, arbitrage, or pure speculation (including trend following).

Many types of algorithmic or automated trading activities can be described as high-frequency trading (HFT).