As a whole this book, 9 Algorithms that Changed the Future: the Ingenious Ideas that Drive Today’s Computers, was very interesting and compared to the first, The Pattern on the Stones, it had absolutely no boring content. It was just as interesting or even a little more so that even Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet was. The thing that I liked most about this book was the fact that it talked about different algorithms and how they are impacting our lives in our dependency electronic society today. Another thing that helps this book, like Tubes, is its cover art, or picture, or concept. One thing that I still do not understand is what is called the “A Mathematician’s Apology,” which is at the beginning of the book in the introduction (MacCormick). I have read and reread through this section but can not for the life of me figure out what John MacCormick is talking about.
The author of 9 Algorithms That Changed the Future, John MacCormick was able to include a vast variety of subject matter into his book and talk about all of it. “Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics” (MacCormick). This is a quote that might be speaking the truth that mathematics problems could be ugly but some of us like that mess. “Yet this apparent stumbling block for AI was convincingly eradicated in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat world champion Garry Kasparov” (MacCormick). The stumbling block that is mentioned earlier in the text is that AI cannot follow intuition rather than just a set of rules like in the game of chess. This is a turning point in even the chess world. If this had not happened yet then there would not be a tournament between the different chess engines every few years to see who has created the best chess engine. The different chess computers simply play each other.
I believe that this book was chosen as a textbook this semester due to it covering algorithms. This is a subject that is constantly expanding and changing as our world of technology, electronics and computers are ever growing. In a previous blog I wrote about an algorithm that is being used to show where prime numbers are within a certain range (AKS). If you input a number, say 60, it will then tell you all the prime numbers up to the number 60 (AKS). Seeing as this algorithm came out not that long ago shows us that this area of our world is constantly in a state of flux, just like mathematics and science (including physics). In my mind this is a splendid book for some one to start looking at the world of algorithms as a possible area to focus in or to help decide what area of the career pool they might want to enter or not enter.
An interesting way that one could view algorithms is a way of applying mathematics into a real world application. The author of Math: Facing an American Phobia is Marilyn Burns who has seen the biggest problem with math is that we, as a nation, have a split view of mathematics from the classroom to the real world. “Talking about Turkey” is a chapter title in Math and Burns talks about applying math to real world problems, which is what the realm of algorithms does as well (Burns).
A problem that I do have with this book is I would like to know what the author thinks about what a possible future algorithm might be. What might this future or not that far off algorithm do? What might it help us to accomplish or make easier in math, science, or another field such as English?
“AKS Primality Test.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
Burns, Marilyn. Math: Facing an American Phobia. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications, 1998. Print.
MacCormick, John. Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today’s Computers. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2012. 80. Print.