What Is Our Life? An Algorithm!

You get up, brush your hair, and make yourself a cup of tea. Do you know that in every single one of those actions you use some of those much-discussed and "unimportant" algorithms? Although algorithms are often associated just with impenetrable mathematical problems, you can, however, see them wherever you go and whatever you do. Here are some basic examples.

  • Google search

While coming to this site, you probably typed in a name and chose the right option on Google. This wouldn’t be possible without algorithms – dozens of algorithms which work every second to enable the right search for everyone. Thanks to algorithms, Google “knows” exactly what you are looking for, and comes up with the right solution for the key words that you entered.

  • Preparing coffee

Like everyone else, you have your own morning “ritual”. First of all, you get the cup out of the cupboard, then you boil the water, you put coffee into it and then wait until it is ready. You are using algorithms – a list of the steps that you follow in order to finish a task.

  • Driving

Should you stop at the green or red light? Should you drive on the right or left side? Should you turn to the west right now or after 100m? These are all algorithms, and they are put into all GPS.

  • News feed

Another example of algorithms controlling our lives. Recent study has shown that people who see fun videos, music, and cheerful photos on their timelines are generally happier than those who see serious stuff, sad music, and bad news. However, how Facebook chooses what to give you is a strictly guarded secret.

  • Every timetable or instruction

Every time you use a manual to fix something or to cook a meal, you are actually using algorithms.

  • Paperwork

This probably isn’t your favorite thing in the universe, but using algorithms makes it a lot quicker. You have to make photocopies of a sheet of paper, so you use a photocopy machine. Would you photocopy each piece of paper 10 times or would you just photocopy that one piece of paper into 10 copies? Of course, you would rather do the second option, which is where algorithms help!

  • Traffic lights

The next time you find yourself sitting in a car, bored while waiting for the first green light to appear in a coordinated traffic signal string, think about the algorithms you are seeing. These algorithms use a system that takes into account the time needed for a car to go through a string of lights until it gets to its destination. It then calculates the “green wave.”

  • Compression

Even if you are not in a car, you probably have mp3 at your home. MP3 compression doesn’t save every feature of an original song file, but it tries to maintain enough of the details to capture most of the quality, while at the same time ensuring a significantly reduced file size. This works with JPG file formats as well. You can do this thanks to algorithms!

As you can see, algorithms are not just math secrets or hidden, unknown things. As humans, we often have a tendency to make something more complicated than it really is. As soon as we do that, we don’t even give it a chance to be understandable. There are a lot of things around us that are actually easy, but we see them as something we could never achieve. The key is to see their use in our lives, because if they weren’t around us, we wouldn’t notice them, and, therefore, we wouldn’t study them. So, before you give up on math or IT, just give it a shot, algorithms are not only easy, they are everywhere and we use them constantly!

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