What are Algorithms?

The first time I wondered what algorithms were, I was watching The Social Network.  The Mark Zuckerberg character was in his dorm at Harvard, and his friend wrote a math equation on the window in marker; I immediately knew that algorithms were too complicated for me to ever have any hope of understanding.

Thankfully, a few months ago, I started to read up on them, and realized that they don’t need to be all that complicated – algorithms are all around us, and even the complicated ones can be understood as a series of instructions, not math formulae that need years of study to grasp.  The Economist just put up an excellent explanation of them; it is well worth a read if you’re interested.

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