I just adore words that I come across everyday, and have absolutely no idea whatsoever of what the word means. My current favourite has been ‘algorithm’. While imagining a rhumba dancing pair of greenish-brown deep sea algae rocking the night away, I had to pass on imagination and finally consult a dictionary. Of course that didn’t help, so I ended up at Wikipedia as usual. Now with the modern wonders of ‘copy and paste’, here is what I discovered.

While there is no generally accepted formal definition of “algorithm,” an informal definition could be “a set of rules that precisely defines a sequence of operations.”[10] For some people, a program is only an algorithm if it stops eventually; for others, a program is only an algorithm if it stops before a given number of calculation steps [11]
(If you really want to be confused, go here for more informal and unclear clarity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algorithm )

Now that really helped didn’t it. All as clear as mud. An algorithm is something that no one has ever formally defined, ergo, it does not officially exist then, does it? Or does it? Well it must because Google are continually changing, modifying and tweaking their magical algorithms and advising the whole world of their algorithmic cleverness. Even if these mystical little things don’t really exist formally in reality, yet appear in the news multiple times per day. Clearly each mention of the word algorithm must be informal.

I wonder if someone could produce one of these for me so I could algorithmically determine how many words I read everyday that I don’t understand? But then that would probably be called a program, wouldn’t it? Or perhaps a programme. No, I’m being silly now. Confusing spelling with algorithmic miracles that…..hold on. I wonder if there’s an algorithm that defines all the words in the English language with multiple spelling possibilities? Surely one must informally exist. Well, at least informally.

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I Know. It’s An Algorithm
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3 thoughts on “I Know. It’s An Algorithm

  • 04/04/2011 at 5:52 pm

    I think we should revert to your original theory of dancing sea creatures. That has to be as good an informal definition as any, and it's certainly the most fun! :D

  • 05/04/2011 at 6:41 am

    I work with algorithms everyday and can definitively say that they do exist…maybe. :)

  • 05/04/2011 at 10:18 pm

    Dancing sea creatures, definitely. NO? Aw, couldn't we have an alternative fun dictionary? :)

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