Word of the Day

Sunday, November 24, 2002


\AL-guh-RITH-uhm\ , noun;
A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps that often involves repetition of an operation.
The notion of an algorithm is basic to all of computer programming, so we should begin with a careful analysis of this concept.
-- Donald E. Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms
Many algorithms use a strategy called divide and conquer to make problems tractable.
-- Jon Orwant, Karkko Hietaniemi and John Macdonald, Mastering Algorithms with Perl
DNA is nothing less than a blueprint -- or, more accurately, an algorithm or instruction manual -- for building a living, breathing, thinking human being.
-- Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life
"It's through algorithms that we're able to do things like make recommendations and tell you what customers who bought this item also bought," said Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith.
-- Margaret Kane, "Amazon hires algorithm guru", CNET News.com, November 8, 2002
Algorithm is an alteration of algorism, possibly influenced by arithmetic. It comes to us from the Arabic name of a ninth century Persian mathematician and textbook author, via Old French and Medieval Latin: Muhammad ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi was from the Khwarizm region, an area south of the Aral Sea. Al-Khwarizmi wrote a book titled Kitab al jabr wa'l-muqabala ("Rules of restoring and equating") which is the source of the word algebra.
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