Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers

Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers

by John MacCormick, Chris Bishop
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Every day, we use our computers to perform remarkable feats. A simple web search picks out a handful of relevant needles from the world's biggest haystack: the billions of pages on the World Wide Web. Uploading a photo to Facebook transmits millions of pieces of information over numerous error-prone network links, yet somehow a perfect copy of the photo arrives intact. Without even knowing it, we use public-key cryptography to transmit secret information like credit card numbers; and we use digital signatures to verify the identity of the websites we visit. How do our computers perform these tasks with such ease?

This is the first book to answer that question in language anyone can understand, revealing the extraordinary ideas that power our PCs, laptops, and smartphones. Using vivid examples, John MacCormick explains the fundamental "tricks" behind nine types of computer algorithms, including artificial intelligence (where we learn about the "nearest neighbor trick" and "twenty questions trick"), Google's famous PageRank algorithm (which uses the "random surfer trick"), data compression, error correction, and much more.

These revolutionary algorithms have changed our world: this book unlocks their secrets, and lays bare the incredible ideas that our computers use every day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691147147
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 01/16/2012
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 3.10(d)

About the Author

John MacCormick is a leading researcher and teacher of computer science. He has a PhD in computer vision from the University of Oxford, has worked in the research labs of Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, and is currently a professor of computer science at Dickinson College.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Chapter 1. Introduction: What Are the Extraordinary Ideas Computers Use Every Day? 1
Chapter 2. Search Engine Indexing: Finding Needles in the World's Biggest Haystack 10
Chapter 3. PageRank: The Technology That Launched Google 24
Chapter 4. Public Key Cryptography: Sending Secrets on a Postcard 38
Chapter 5. Error-Correcting Codes: Mistakes That Fix Themselves 60
Chapter 6. Pattern Recognition: Learning from Experience 80
Chapter 7. Data Compression: Something for Nothing 105
Chapter 8. Databases: The Quest for Consistency 122
Chapter 9. Digital Signatures: Who Really Wrote This Software? 149
Chapter 10. What Is Computable? 174
Chapter 11. Conclusion: More Genius at Your Fingertips? 199
Acknowledgments 205
Sources and Further Reading 207
Index 211

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Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book, if you are inclined to want to know about hidden computer logic. If this is not high on your list, it might not be for you. Since I'm a "nerd" I found it peaked my curiosity about how things work. It is about reasoning imparted by programmers, not about any actual hardware.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book its not the best i ever read but this a good book and i recomend buying it!!!!!!!!!!!