Carl Miller at The National: “First, write out the numbers one to 100 in 10 rows. Cross out the one. Then circle the two, and cross out all of the multiples of two. Circle the three, and do likewise. Follow those instructions, and you’ve just completed the first three steps of an algorithm, and an incredibly ancient one. Twenty-three centuries ago, Eratosthenes was sat in the great library of Alexandria, using this process (it is called Eratosthenes’ Sieve) to find and separate prime numbers. Algorithms are nothing new, indeed even the word itself is old. Fifteen centuries after Eratosthenes, Algoritmi de numero Indorum appeared on the bookshelves of European monks, and with it, the word to describe something very simple in essence: follow a series of fixed steps, in order, to achieve a given answer to a given problem. That’s it, that’s an algorithm. Simple.
Algorithms are also doing more things; whether welding, driving or cooking, thanks to robotics. Wherever there is some kind of exciting innovation happening, algorithms are rarely far away. They are being used in more fields, for more things, than ever before and are incomparably, incomprehensibly more capable than the algorithms recognisable to Eratosthenes….(More)”