Author: John MacCormick
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2013-05-05
Every day, we use our computers to perform remarkable feats. A simple web search picks out a handful of relevant needles from the world's biggest haystack: the billions of pages on the World Wide Web. Uploading a photo to Facebook transmits millions of pieces of information over numerous error-prone network links, yet somehow a perfect copy of the photo arrives intact. Without even knowing it, we use public-key cryptography to transmit secret information like credit card numbers; and we use digital signatures to verify the identity of the websites we visit. How do our computers perform these tasks with such ease? This is the first book to answer that question in language anyone can understand, revealing the extraordinary ideas that power our PCs, laptops, and smartphones. Using vivid examples, John MacCormick explains the fundamental "tricks" behind nine types of computer algorithms, including artificial intelligence (where we learn about the "nearest neighbor trick" and "twenty questions trick"), Google's famous PageRank algorithm (which uses the "random surfer trick"), data compression, error correction, and much more. These revolutionary algorithms have changed our world: this book unlocks their secrets, and lays bare the incredible ideas that our computers use every day.
A fascinating guided tour of the complex, fast-moving, and influential world of algorithms—what they are, why they’re such powerful predictors of human behavior, and where they’re headed next. Algorithms exert an extraordinary level of influence on our everyday lives - from dating websites and financial trading floors, through to online retailing and internet searches - Google's search algorithm is now a more closely guarded commercial secret than the recipe for Coca-Cola. Algorithms follow a series of instructions to solve a problem and will include a strategy to produce the best outcome possible from the options and permutations available. Used by scientists for many years and applied in a very specialized way they are now increasingly employed to process the vast amounts of data being generated, in investment banks, in the movie industry where they are used to predict success or failure at the box office and by social scientists and policy makers. What if everything in life could be reduced to a simple formula? What if numbers were able to tell us which partners we were best matched with – not just in terms of attractiveness, but for a long-term committed marriage? Or if they could say which films would be the biggest hits at the box office, and what changes could be made to those films to make them even more successful? Or even who is likely to commit certain crimes, and when? This may sound like the world of science fiction, but in fact it is just the tip of the iceberg in a world that is increasingly ruled by complex algorithms and neural networks. In The Formula, Luke Dormehl takes readers inside the world of numbers, asking how we came to believe in the all-conquering power of algorithms; introducing the mathematicians, artificial intelligence experts and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who are shaping this brave new world, and ultimately asking how we survive in an era where numbers can sometimes seem to create as many problems as they solve.
Author: Jeremy Black
Publisher: Yale University Press
Release Date: 2014-01-14
Information is power. For more than five hundred years the success or failure of nations has been determined by a country’s ability to acquire knowledge and technical skill and transform them into strength and prosperity. Leading historian Jeremy Black approaches global history from a distinctive perspective, focusing on the relationship between information and society and demonstrating how the understanding and use of information have been the primary factors in the development and character of the modern age. Black suggests that the West’s ascension was a direct result of its institutions and social practices for acquiring, employing, and retaining information and the technology that was ultimately produced. His cogent and well-reasoned analysis looks at cartography and the hardware of communication, armaments and sea power, mercantilism and imperialism, science and astronomy, as well as bureaucracy and the management of information, linking the history of technology with the history of global power while providing important indicators for the future of our world.
Author: John MacCormick
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2018-05-15
An accessible and rigorous textbook for introducing undergraduates to computer science theory What Can Be Computed? is a uniquely accessible yet rigorous introduction to the most profound ideas at the heart of computer science. Crafted specifically for undergraduates who are studying the subject for the first time, and requiring minimal prerequisites, the book focuses on the essential fundamentals of computer science theory and features a practical approach that uses real computer programs (Python and Java) and encourages active experimentation. It is also ideal for self-study and reference. The book covers the standard topics in the theory of computation, including Turing machines and finite automata, universal computation, nondeterminism, Turing and Karp reductions, undecidability, time-complexity classes such as P and NP, and NP-completeness, including the Cook-Levin Theorem. But the book also provides a broader view of computer science and its historical development, with discussions of Turing's original 1936 computing machines, the connections between undecidability and Gödel's incompleteness theorem, and Karp's famous set of twenty-one NP-complete problems. Throughout, the book recasts traditional computer science concepts by considering how computer programs are used to solve real problems. Standard theorems are stated and proven with full mathematical rigor, but motivation and understanding are enhanced by considering concrete implementations. The book's examples and other content allow readers to view demonstrations of—and to experiment with—a wide selection of the topics it covers. The result is an ideal text for an introduction to the theory of computation. An accessible and rigorous introduction to the essential fundamentals of computer science theory, written specifically for undergraduates taking introduction to the theory of computation Features a practical, interactive approach using real computer programs (Python in the text, with forthcoming Java alternatives online) to enhance motivation and understanding Gives equal emphasis to computability and complexity Includes special topics that demonstrate the profound nature of key ideas in the theory of computation Lecture slides and Python programs are available at whatcanbecomputed.com