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Paolo Lenotti

Excel with Business & Filtered

Marketing Director

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What are Algorithms and Why are They Everywhere?


Algorithms can be complex things, and many of us probably conceive of them as deeply mathematical beasts far removed from reality. Although it's true algorithms usually are complex to a layman, they are not at all removed from reality. To the contrary, as Kevin Slavin's TED talk  argues, our world is increasingly designed for and ran by algorithms. Moreover, many of these algorithms, like Frankenstein's monster, have mutated into things beyond the understanding of their creators. 

How this has happened is far beyond most of us, including me. But this doesn't mean that we shouldn't pay an interest in and be aware of what algorithms are and how they impact our lives. A basic consideration of these things should, at the very least, develop our understanding of how our world works and build a small footbridge across the divide between everyday reality and mathematical computer science. 

Kevin Slavin's talk provides an interesting starting point for this. But first, by way of an introduction to his talk, what is an algorithm?

An algorithm, put simply, is a finite list of clearly-defined, step-by-step instructions for carrying out calculations and wider processes.

Starting from an initial state and an initial input, these step-by-step instructions describe a computation that, when executed, results in a final output and a final state. 

Algorithms are therefore written things. They can also compute random inputs as well as pre-determined ones.

Algorithms are used for things such as data processing and automated reasoning. An example is our own filter algorithm, which takes the answers users give to questions in our diagnostic test and uses them to output a reduced syllabus tailored to their learning requirements. 

In reality, indeed, these seemingly technical uses for algorithms translate into more than we may think ...

Click on image to watch "How Algorithms Shape Our World" with Kevin Salvin via TED

Sam Firman

We are Filtered, an Online education provider of outstanding tailored training in Microsoft's main applications.

We teach the features of each discipline that we believe to be critical, stripping out the rest to produce a highly refined syllabus. Furthermore, using our signature "Filter", a series of carefully-selected questions, we filter and tailor the course content for each individual. Our interactive courses give your staff 24/7 access to videos, tests, exercises and quizzes to support them every step of the way. 

Author Profile Picture
Paolo Lenotti

Marketing Director

Read more from Paolo Lenotti

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