THE WORLD OF ALGORITHMS
Our computer world is driven by coded algorithms. They are integrated into most computer systems in use today. This article discusses how they have evolved. Without these important algorithms our computer systems would be find it difficult to function.
A Brief History of Algorithms
The word “algorithm” is derived from the name of the Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who wrote a treatise on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in the 9th century. Al-Khwarizmi’s work was later translated into Latin, and the algorithmic tradition continued in the West with such notable figures as Fibonacci, who popularized Hindu-Arabic numerals in Europe in the 13th century. Algorithms have been used for centuries to solve mathematical problems. In the 19th century, they were used to design mechanical calculators and to study the foundations of mathematics.
In the 20th century, algorithms played a key role in the development of digital computers and the information age. Today, algorithms are used in a variety of ways, from search engines and social media to financial trading and medical diagnosis. They are an essential part of our lives, and they will only become more so in the future.
What Is an Algorithm? An algorithm is a set of instructions for solving a problem. It can be as simple as a recipe for baking a cake or as complex as a set of rules for flying a plane. Algorithms are usually expressed in a formal language, such as pseudocode or a programming language. They can be executed by a computer or implemented in hardware, such as a microprocessor.
Why Are Algorithms Important? Algorithms are important because they are at the heart of computer science. Without algorithms, there would be no way to solve the complex problems that we rely on computers for, such as weather forecasting, mapmaking, or stock trading. Algorithms are also important because they are a key part of artificial intelligence (AI). AI algorithms are used to solve problems that are too difficult for humans, such as playing chess or Go the ancient game, or to make decisions that are too difficult for humans, such as identifying credit card fraud.
The importance of computer algorithms cannot be overstated and lies in the fact that they provide a way for computers to automate processes that would otherwise be too difficult or time-consuming for humans to do. One of the most important applications of algorithms is in the field of search engines. When you type a query into a search engine, it uses an algorithm to scour the web for pages that are relevant to your query. Without algorithms, we would have to rely on human beings to manually sift through all the billions of webpages out there, which would be an impossible task. Algorithms are also used extensively in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These platforms use algorithms to determine which posts and updates from your friends and followers you see in your news feed. Again, without algorithms, we would be overwhelmed with information and unable to keep up with what’s going on in our networks. Computer algorithms are also behind many of the recommendations we see online these days. For example, if you buy something on Amazon, you will likely see “customers who bought this item also bought…” recommendations on subsequent visits. These recommendations are generated by algorithms that consider your purchase history as well as the purchase histories of other customers with similar tastes. In short, computer algorithms play a vital role in today’s world by helping us make sense of vast amounts of data and automate repetitive tasks. They are an essential part of how we use computers today, and their importance is only likely to grow in the future as we increasingly rely on computers to help us manage our lives.
PREDICTIVE POLICING – AN EXAMPLE
Predictive policing algorithms are computer programs that analyze data to predict where and when crime is likely to occur. Law enforcement agencies can use this information to deploy resources more effectively and prevent crime before it happens. There are a variety of predictive policing algorithms in use today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common type of algorithm is the regression model, which uses historical data to identify patterns and trends in criminal activity. This information is then used to generate predictions about future crime. Another type of predictive policing algorithm is the social network analysis, which examines relationships between people involved in criminal activity. This information can be used to identify potential suspects and victims of crime, as well as areas where crime is more likely to occur.
Predictive policing algorithms have been shown to be effective at reducing crime in several studies. In one study, predictive policing was found to reduce violent crime by 15 percent in New York City. Another study found that predictive policing reduced burglary rates by up to 20 percent in Chicago. While predictive policing algorithms hold great promise for reducing crime, there are also some concerns about their use. One worry is that these algorithms could be biased against certain groups of people, such as minorities or low-income individuals. Another concern is that predictive policing could lead to increased surveillance of innocent people who just happen to live in high-crime areas. Despite these concerns, predictive policing algorithms are likely here to stay due to their proven effectiveness at reducing crime. As these algorithms continue to evolve, it is important that they be tested thoroughly so that any potential biases can be identified and corrected.
RACIAL BIAS – AN ISSUE
Predictive policing algorithms have been biased against minorities. Studies have shown that these algorithms are more likely to generate false positives for blacks and Latinos than for whites. This is because the data used to train the algorithms is often biased itself. For example, if crime data is disproportionately collected from minority neighborhoods, then the algorithm will learn to associate minority groups with crime. This can lead to innocent people being targeted by police simply because of their skin color or ethnicity. There are several ways to combat this problem. One is to use data that is less likely to be biased in the first place. Another is to design algorithms that are specifically designed to reduce bias. However, it is important to remember that no algorithm is perfect and there will always be some degree of bias present. The best we can do is try to minimize it as much as possible.