Wulf's Webden

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By Algorithm


An algorithm, boiled down to a simple summary, is a pattern for working out how to do things. It might sound like the kind of things you left behind last time you sat in a maths classroom but algorithms are all around you. Even in a routine task like cooking a meal, you will be making use of some kind of algorithm, whether it is slavishly following the instructions in a recipe or incorporating some kind of feedback mechanism (eg. if the veg starts to brown or blacken round the edges, turn the oven down!).

You also can’t avoid them if you use the Internet. For example, it is obvious that YouTube takes note of what you watch and tries to feed you more of the same. When I was doing my 30x30DirectWatercolor2018 challenge in June, I was watching a lot of videos about watercolour painting and got presented with plenty more. Now I’m having a bit of a woodworking kick, sometimes the first screen I get is full of woodworking videos.

It helps to recognise that this type of mechanism is at work. If I’m getting fed up of woodwork – or finding that I’m being tempted by all sorts of tools I haven’t bought yet, I can return to other topics like drawing, painting or music and the new suggestions will start to come from those realms as well. And, of course, that calculation is an algorithm of its own!

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