Algorithms & What you didn’t think you already knew about them…

Until very recently (well the last year or so) I had no idea myself what an Algorithm was.  It wasn’t until I started taking college courses that I learned what they are.  I had heard the word used in the past, although I had no idea what it meant, or the desire really to find out more about it because it didn’t seem to pertain to anything in my life… or so I thought, but as it turns out in fact we come across algorithms everyday.

Here is the definition from the World English Dictionary:

1. Compare heuristic a logical arithmetical or computational procedure that if correctly applied ensures the solution of a problem
2. logic, maths a recursive procedure whereby an infinite sequence of terms can be generated

As you can see there are a couple of different meanings for algorithms, and in this case definition 2 applies the most.  In its most basic form an algorithm is a set of instructions that eventually make up a solution.  An algorithm is also something that can create something once its set of instructions have been carried out.  This result can be anything from a cake after following a baking recipe or learning how to skydive from an instructor.  I would imagine that mathematicians would argue that they shouldn’t be generalized as much as I have done, but .  Algorithms can be quite complex or fairly simple depending upon the desired outcome of the solution, problem, or recipe.  I’m betting a lot of you with no previous knowledge of what an Algorithm was are having light bulbs go off right about now.  The use of algorithms is all around us in computers, analyses of data, even Facebook, and Google use them to predict things that you are already planning on doing.  They have a similar App for smartphones in development (if it hasn’t come out already), and there is also a really good TED Talk on the subject of algorithms as well.   I’m hoping that I’ve been able to shed some light on the subject somewhat, and have given you the desire to want to learn more about them.



One thought on “Algorithms & What you didn’t think you already knew about them…

  1. We started using this graph theoretic approach to write dictionary definitions. I have this thing called Webster’s Online Dictionary … I turned my algorithms on generating dictionaries… using cluster analysis and graph theory combined. It algorithmically mimicked what a lexicographer should do if they had access to such a large data base. The process involved first creating the linguistic graph that defines language and all of the relationships between words and the phonetics behind the language.

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