What was the first algorithm ever created

Invisible assistants: What algorithms have to do with cars

The term “algorithm” comes up again and again when talking about computers and technology. For a lot of what you know from everyday life, algorithms are used, be it the pedestrian traffic lights on your daily way to school or the search engine on your smartphone. What is it all about? What does an algorithm do, how does it work?

Algorithms were originally used long before computers existed, because the principle was already known in ancient times. Calculation paths are, for example, a kind of algorithm. If you press the square root key on your calculator, you don't need to do anything yourself, the result is simply displayed. Before calculators existed, roots were calculated using an algorithm.

Nowadays the term is mostly used in connection with computer systems. In order for a computer to be able to do something, it must first of all know what we want from it. So we have to program it. The IT specialists do this with so-called source codes: in it they explain to the computer what they want from it and give instructions on what the system should do - and as precisely as possible.

To the untrained eye, the source code looks like a tangled mess of numbers and letters, but the computer can do something with it. The algorithms are also hidden in this code. An algorithm is nothing more than a sequence of instructions designed to solve a specific problem.

How does this work?

Every decision depends on or is influenced by many different factors. This is also the case with the simplest decisions that have nothing to do with complicated calculations.

For example, if you're wondering what you'd like to eat today, there are a few things you need to consider when making that decision: What else do you have at home? Do you have time to go shopping for something else - and how much money do you have available for it? What do you like and what don't you like? Is it still worth going to the candy cabinet or will your parents be calling you for dinner in half an hour anyway?

If an algorithm were to make this decision, it would take all the factors together and combine them in every possible variant. He then compares every possible combination and the consequences thereof with the programmed specifications. From this, he calculates which answer is most likely the best for you.

Algorithms are everywhere

Sounds pretty complicated now? In everyday life, algorithms are involved in many places without you noticing. They can make everyday life easier and relieve us of a lot of work.

With the help of algorithms at an intersection, traffic lights coordinate which traffic lights switch and when. This is an important function of algorithms because it helps prevent accidents. An algorithm in the word processing program on the computer ensures that you are notified of spelling errors.

Algorithms are practically ubiquitous on the Internet. With a search engine, an algorithm calculates the result that is displayed to you - depending on where you are or what you search for particularly often. If two people enter the same word in the search engine, very different results can still come out. The exact algorithm is secret to avoid manipulation.

Firms and companies use algorithms to evaluate data and thus, for example, adapt advertising on the Internet to the respective interests of the user. So you should only see advertisements while surfing that really interest you.

Algorithms are also involved in the automotive industry

The navigation system uses algorithms, for example, to calculate the shortest route: it can detect a traffic jam and then reschedule the route.

Many assistance systems also work with algorithms in the car itself. The term “intelligence in the vehicle” is often used here. Vehicles can drive around obstacles, for example: The vehicle detects the edge of the road or if there is an obstacle in the way, the algorithm tells the vehicle that it is not allowed to continue because something is in the way.

Algorithms are also indispensable when it comes to autonomous driving.

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