Don't you hate it when politicians and newscasters talk about Google's, Facebook's, whatever's algorithms without really knowing what the word "algorithm" means?

A few years ago, only few people knew the word existed, and now you find people going around, saying things like:

"I don't know why YouTube recommended that video to me. 'Their algorithm' must be mad."

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    Yeah it quit annoying, just look at how many self-proclaimed experts we have got the last few years. Please do some researching, before throwing all these words aroud.
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    If not algorithm what would you call the thing that programatically takes your previously watched videos and uses it to find new videos you might like?
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    @inaba Thank you for illustrating my concern.

    *Banging head against wall.*
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    @inaba the thing is until people found out there is an algorithm no one would bitch about algorithm being mad. It's like when people at some point started calling everything with schrödinger prefix without really understanding it and often applying it on things that had observable outcome right from start. Also the algorithm could be the fat wow guy from south park for all we know.
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    @Pyjong You can certainly write algorithm using fat wow guy from south park. He could be treated like some kind of middleware that takes certain input and gives you specific output.

    You could also describe algorithm used by this middleware that determines what output you will get (if it is deterministic), but you don't really have to. It all depends on how big part this middleware would take in deciding what videos are recommended.

    But I digress. Back on topic, I think that we just have to accept that certain things that used to be considered for geeks are not anymore. PCs, consoles, mobile games, internet and a bunch of other things are so ubiquitous in this age that having some knowledge about them isn't really that surprising. And it is some kind of algorithm that decides what to recommend, so why so mad?
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    Ob the plus die, if you don't want to explain something to someone, just tell Thema, that it's an algorithm.

    I once has a Boss/Sales Person who always told client's that we'll create some custom algorithm, to show the stuff, which basically translated to me adding an "order by" clause to the query... But yayy, custom algorithm == happy customer...
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    @arraysstartat1 yeah yeah it is an algorithm. The mild nuissance is that if they introduced the word plumbus instead people would go with that instead which is.. thats .. for the fact they didnt have to say anything..unnecessary?
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    @irene You clearly are just a troll. Otherwise, you would provide evidence to back up your statement that I don't know what an algorithm is.

    Here goes (Cambridge Dict):

    Algorithm: a set of mathematical instructions or rules that will help to calculate an answer to a problem.

    Now, what does that mean, and that's exactly what my rant was about: people are calling everything an algorithm, or even worse, THE algorithm, as if the whole of YouTube was just one algorithm.

    But a computer program is NOT an algorithm, a function is NOT an algorithm, a strategy is NOT an algorithm.

    An algorithm is something much more basic, like what steps to follow to:
    - sort an array
    - searching for an element in a linked list / binary tree / etc.
    - computing the area of a square (this example shall illustrate that algorithms don't require computers to exist).

    Choosing a linked list vs a binary tree to keep your sorted data is NOT an algorithm. It's a strategy.

    -- continued on the next comment
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    @irene -- continuation of my previous comment

    Finally, a program that uses strategies is NOT an algorithm.

    A program may use different strategies to do various things, be it organising data, scheduling tasks, etc, and strategies may even change depending on the size of the data set, or strategies may be used redundantly for the sake of fault tolerance. And behind each strategy there are algorithms to do single tasks.

    For example, if a web service collects user data, it may follow different strategies for storing the data, and each strategy will have a separate algorithm for each task, like adding data to the data structure, searching for a particular piece of data, collecting statistical knowledge, etc.

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    @rEaL-jAsE That's precisely what an algorithm is NOT, you dimwit!

    I effing hate these times in which any idiot can learn a programming language online and call themselves a software experts. That's what you get when people don't have proper training in basic things like mathematics and theoretical computer science.

    Would you go to a dentist who taught themselves online how to drill teeth, without having gone to medical school and learnt about the nerves, muscles, joints, etc in your face, or how your body is going to react to anaesthesia, pain killers or antiphlogistics?
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    @acz0903 actually by that definition (which is an extension of Alan Turings definition) @irene isn't wrong.

    You're saying a function isn't an algorithm and then provide an example in the Next paragraph: Sort an array, which usually is a function. The most basic sciemtific definition as I see it would be every that can be run by a Turing machine.

    That just für the facts. However usually people in IT use the word algorithm for a specific function that isn't "standard". So yes, one shouldn't use algorithm in that context although it technically would be correct.
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    @acz0903 No one is calling the entirety of Youtube an algorighm. Just the thing that uses maths to figure out what kind of content you would like to see (+ at least one Jordan Peterson video)

    Also just for fun I checked if there were a wikipedia article about this strategy thing you talked about, and there is, and it opens with:

    "In computer programming, the strategy pattern (also known as the policy pattern) is a behavioral software design pattern that enables selecting an algorithm at runtime. "

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    Plus, I much prefer calling the thing that recommends you videos as "the algorithm" rather than, say, the "A.I."
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    @Wack Wowowow you can't just use a function to sort shit are you crazy! You'd need an algorithm instead!!
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