Algorithms Everywhere

I love MATH, LOGIC, PROBLEM SOLVING and COMPUTERS – not just actually using them, but the actual process of coming up with and building rules to make them behave in a certain way and telling them HOW to do it (that’s called an algorithm and that’s what Software/Computer Engineers do!). Did you know that lots of things we do, see and experience everyday involve algorithms? Unless you’re wired to think “computer logic” and “exceptions”, you probably don’t have this at the forefront of your mind. From HowStuffWorks:

To make a computer do anything, you have to write a computer program. To write a computer program, you have to tell the computer, step by step, exactly what you want it to do. The computer then “executes” the program, following each step mechanically, to accomplish the end goal. When you are telling the computer what to do, you also get to choose how it’s going to do it. The algorithm is the basic technique used to get the job done.


codeThink about it this way – how does the computer (or cell phone) know what to do when you click on that mail icon? A set of instructions, or algorithms tell it exactly what to do! Here’s an example using the mail icon on your computer. If a user left clicks on the mouse, open Microsoft Outlook; or, if the user right clicks on the mouse, “show options”. That’s the simplistic version of pseduo-code (instructions in English) a programmer would then translate to computer language (JAVA, C++) for it to do – no a computer does not speak English?!

io9 published 10 algorithms that are common in daily life. I added a few notes of questions one may ask when thinking about the impact of the algorithm in these tasks:

  1. Google Search – Which sites should be return when the user types “recipes”?

  2. Facebook’s News Feed – Which stories to display?

  3. OKCupid Date Matching – How do “match” people?

  4. NSA Data Collection, Interpretation, and Encryption – What makes a conversation a threat?

  5. You May Also Enjoy…” – How does Amazon know which books you’ll like?

  6. Google AdWords – Which ads should be shown to women?

  7. High Frequency Stock Trading – Read this post

  8. MP3 Compression – How do we get that song from your laptop to your iPhone?

  9. IBM’s CRUSH – How do we determine high-potential crime areas?

  10. Auto-Tune – How do we translate human voice to a cool tune?

So there you have it! A world of algorithms! Who knew?! For all the engaged gals (and guys) out there, here’s a little algorithm for determining who should be on your guest list! 😉

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Wedding 101

101A wedding is not just a day, it’s an EXPERIENCE! With that in mind, there are a few critical things you need to know.

  1. This is your day! Throw out all the rules and traditions and focus on what’s important to you and your fiance.
  2. Set a realistic budget and stick to it! You can spend $10,000 or $1,000 and still make your wedding fabulous.

  3. Prioritize. Unless you have unlimited funds, this is important. Would you rather have gold chairs or offer beer and wine? An amazingly fabulous dress or decked out invitations. Your Day, Your Priorities, Your Way!

  4. Personalize. Everything! For yourself, your future hubby, bridesmaids! Get people involved in the experience and keep their attention. Those are the things you and your guests will remember!

  5. Guest list:  # 1 expense, #1 drama. Invite those people who are nearest and dearest to your heart. Use this guide and move on.

  6. Everything you need or could possibly learn about this process is on the web. Do not buy a cheesy wedding book. Whatever you need is only a simple search away

  7. Hire an amazing photographer. Flowers will die, programs will be tossed. Your pictures are the only thing that will last. Don’t skimp on this or you will regret it.

  8. Be considerate. To your guests by picking a convenient and lively location, to your bridesmaids by not selecting a costume dress and to your vendors by giving them the information they need in advance. Yes, this is your day, but don’t be a Bridezilla.