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What are algorithms and how are they used?


Algorithms represent processes or set of rules which are followed in calculations or other math problems. They solve problems, primarily by computers. Algorithms are essential for website ranking in the world’s biggest search engine. They have the power to teach a robot to perform certain operations, and they are even involved in the stock market. In many ways, algorithms shape the life we know and make it easier for us. But, what are they precisely, where did they come from and how will they determine the human future? This would be a small guide through the world of algorithms to get you familiar with them.

The history of algorithms

post5aThe first time the term algorithm was used was back in 780 by a Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi. He was also an astronomer, geographer, and scholar. But, the origin of algorithms goes even further in the past. The first recorded mathematical algorithms were in 1600 BC when Babylonians developed them for factorization and finding square roots. However, the modern algorithms appeared in the late 1920s and were developed through 1930s. The first one who introduced the recursive functions was Godel-Herbrand-Kleene.

Features of algorithms

They must stop at a particular time – for example, if your task is to make a meal, then the algorithm is a meal recipe. Here you are instructed what to do, how to prepare, what ingredients to mix, what temperature to set and when to stop making, to cook a delicious dish. The same rule applies to algorithms.

It must have detailed step-by-step instructions – if your task is to locate some building, then the algorithm is a set of directions which will clearly explain where to go and what to do to find the building.

It must prove effectiveness – if your task is to build a toy car, then the algorithm is your instruction manual, which will guide you through this process. It will help you assemble the parts, and you will end up with a functional toy.

post5bDominant algorithms

In the digital world, everything is connected, from search engines, social networks to online marketing. In this case, the study of relations between different entities is essential. There are a lot of approaches and features of link analysis, and each of them can be an algorithm, although the bases are similar. For example, think about Facebook’s friend suggestions, YouTube video recommendations, Google’s page rank. Even though the parameters may be different, but the math behind them is the same. The algorithms are working behind our screens, and average users aren’t aware of it.

Data compression

From zip to mp3 and from JPEG to MPEG-2, these algorithms compress data and make systems more affordable, more efficient and more accessible to transmit. Data compression is often used in video games, videos, music, cloud computing, data storage, databases and any files you download to your computer. This type of algorithm will save you a lot of space and make your system run smoothly.