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
These revolutionary algorithms have changed our world: this
book unlocks their secrets, and lays bare the incredible ideas that
our computers use every day.
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