Talk:Algorithm

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Former featured articleAlgorithm is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on July 20, 2004.
Article milestones
DateProcessResult
January 19, 2004Refreshing brilliant proseKept
May 16, 2006Featured article reviewDemoted
July 13, 2006Good article nomineeListed
February 17, 2010Good article reassessmentDelisted
Current status: Former featured article

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Jaypp86.

Above undated message substituted from Template:Dashboard.wikiedu.org assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 13:49, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Where to cover "algorithms" as used in discussions about social media, big tech, etc?[edit]

I think this article should have some reference to the fact that "algorithms" are now being discussed in the context of social media platforms, "Big Tech", and related Internet technologies. As governments in Europe, the US, and other regions are discussing whether to regulate social platforms and companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google, the discussion often comes back to "algorithms". For instance, this is coming up quite often in discussions around Section 230 in the US. In Europe there is an EU activity of "Algorithm Awareness-Building."[1] Just recently, two representatives introduced the "Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act"[2].

Given that many people may turn to Wikipedia to help understand what an "algorithm" is, I feel like there should be some mention of this usage on the page. But given the amount of detailed and academic info on the current page, I'm not sure how to best integrate this other content. Perhaps something brief in the lead paragraph and then a mention under "Informal definition"? Or a new section about "Algorithms in current politics"? Or a new section under "History" (although that seems mostly about the refinement of algorithms)? Any thoughts? - Dyork (talk) 17:25, 20 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree that there should be some mention of the social media usage on this page. However I think it's wrong to conflate that usage with the real meaning of the word "algorithm". In the social-media context, "algorithm" usually just means that some kind of processing has been done; it doesn't mean that the processing was in accordance with any kind of clear procedure, which is what an algorithm is supposed to be. I don't want this page to be about any old data-processing. That's not an algorithm. That's just what journos refer to as "algorithm". If we let that go, then we'll need a new term to refer to real algorithms: e.g. "Explicit procedure for performing transformations on data", which is a bit unwieldy.
Can we have our word back please, mister?
12:30, 27 October 2021 (UTC)
Absolutely. I'm surprised there isn't a separate article Algorithm (social media) that's written for a much more lay audience. Social media algorithms are usually more complex and aren't talked about in terms of big-O or anything like that. Instead, it's on the social impact of various choices of what to hilight -- things like the filter bubble, algorithmic radicalization, and even allegations that some social media company's decisions can sway political elections. And there are many news articles about this topic. --Hirsutism (talk) 18:45, 24 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Or perhaps an article about the Social impact of algorithms, with a heavy emphasis on social media algorithms? Because there are articles about algorithms being used to hire and fire people, for insurance and policing, and several other places they can introduce bias, and those should probably also be addressed in the for-a-lay-audience article. --Hirsutism (talk) 20:18, 24 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"In the social-media context, "algorithm" usually just means that some kind of processing has been done; it doesn't mean that the processing was in accordance with any kind of clear procedure, which is what an algorithm is supposed to be. I don't want this page to be about any old data-processing. That's not an algorithm. That's just what journos refer to as "algorithm". If we let that go, then we'll need a new term to refer to real algorithms: e.g. "Explicit procedure for performing transformations on data", which is a bit unwieldy."
Thank you! I've been trying to understand what news/social media means by algorithms. But none of the actual definitions help. Now I see that that is because the popular use of algorithm is similar to the popular use of 'metaphysics.' It means something different and sillier.
We Social impact of algorithms: I see that there is already a wiki dealing with Algorithmic Bias that probably accounts for this. Jesseraekern (talk) 18:14, 2 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've written a bit of an article at User:Hirsutism/Algorithm (social media). Could someone take a look at it, and tell me if they think the article should be expanded to cover all AI-with-a-social-impact, or should it focus only on social media algorithms? On the other side, there's quite a few articles about this already, I don't know whether we even need a new separate article, other than a short summary in this article? --Hirsutism (talk) 20:41, 29 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

References

  1. ^ https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/algorithmic-awareness-building. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ https://eshoo.house.gov/media/press-releases/reps-eshoo-and-malinowski-introduce-bill-hold-tech-platforms-liable-algorithmic. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
The "algorithms" that are discussed in the context of social media are usually not algorithms as discussed in this article; the social media "algorithms" that are derived from big datasets by training ML systems are not transparent, and can't even really be expressed. I think it's incorrect to call these systems "algorithms".
However I do appreciate that journalists and ML promoters do refer to these systems as "algorithms". Therefore I support the creation of a page for "algorithms" in a social media context. That might make it easier to keep this page focused on the subject of real algorithms.
MrDemeanour (talk) 08:56, 15 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed: "algorithm" as used in a social-media context is an important concept, quite distinct from this article's focus. The content of Hirsutism's draft at User:Hirsutism/Algorithm (social media) looks like a good start, but I'd argue that social media algorithms are simply a special case of a recommender systems, both on the technical and on the social/behavioral side. The social and behavioral aspects of recommender systems are mostly covered in the filter bubble article, but that's only one aspect. I'm not sure how to organize this better.... --Macrakis (talk) 14:14, 27 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'Algorithm' as used by non-computer-scientists / non-experts to discuss recommender systems in social media (which, surely, are implemented by large numbers of algorithms) is a technically-incorrect use of the word almost entirely unrelated to this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.200.126.73 (talk) 12:52, 23 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Page tidy up needed.[edit]

This page is quite long and rambling and seems to have some content that could go to other pages such as the section on Euclid's algorithm and the conversation between Turing etc. This is a gateway concept to many related issues and it would be good if it was easier for the general reader to navigate. I can get started on some of this. Amanda Lawrence 01:16, 27 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article reorganization?[edit]

Looking through the article and thinking about ways to improve it to get back to featured/GA status. Many of the specific passages that were mentioned in the previous GA review seem to have been addressed, but the biggest thing that currently stands out to me is that the article needs major reorganization: the current list of 18 sections is just difficult to navigate, some of them very long and others extremely short. I think the strongest sections of the article are the history sections, as well as the Examples section.

Here's a suggested structure:

1. Definition (includes current informal definition & formalization -- though I think much of this material should be moved to the history section)

2. Examples

3. History

4. Design and Implementation (includes current secs. expressing algorithms, Design, Implementation, Computer Algorithms)

5. Analysis (needs better name) -- basically what is done with algorithms after they are designed/implemented (includes current Algorithmic Analysis, Legal issues) Note: it does make sense to include legal issues as part of the discussion, particularly because this can be combined with fairness & privacy concerns surrounding algorithms and ideally a discussion of that, which is definitely one area of algorithmic analysis.

6. Classification (includes current section + Continuous algorithms)

A couple of these changes are obvious fixes, particularly merging in some of the super short sections. Thoughts on the broader organizational structure here? Caleb Stanford (talk) 22:41, 16 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Computer algorithms[edit]

I've removed the opening paragraph of this section; it was incomprehensible, and uncited. I think it was trying to explain what distinguishes algorithms implemented on computers from other algorithms.

The remaining part of the section seems to consist of a list of questions, accompanied by "answers" from various CS luminaries, concerning subjects like efficiency and elegance. This material needs distilling, to produce a section that actually has something to say.

The thing is, I don't think the section (as currently titled) will ever have anything to say, because "computer algorithms" are simply algorithms; and indeed, the section quotes Knuth, pointing out that ""the best way to learn an algorithm is to try it . . . immediately take pen and paper and work through an example". With that quote, the section undermines itself; if you can work through a computer algorithm without a computer, then it's just an algorithm.

I propose to blank the section; I would try to improve it, but I don't get what the section is trying to say. I'll leave it for a day or so, in the hope that someone can distill meaning out of it.

MrDemeanour (talk) 12:17, 11 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks! I 100% agree that this section is confusing. I'm not sure of the exact intention of the original author. I think a section regarding "implementation of algorithms" would be useful, but if that is the intended scope, then the discussion seems to contain a lot of irrelevant detail.
I'd like to avoid completely removing it as I think editors are often too quick to delete others' work rather than edit/incorporate. It seems like much of the discussion is actually about representing algorithms in computers, rather than implementing them. Hence the different Turing-complete models of computation. So I would suggest that that part of the discussion be moved to "Expressing algorithms". The rest could find a place somewhere else or be deleted. Does that change make sense?
Caleb Stanford (talk) 16:45, 11 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I'm not going to try to copy-edit this material and then try to distribute certain (which?) parts through the rest of the article, since I've already said that I think it's incomprehensible; I'm obviously not competent to do that work.
And since there is no clear support here for deletion, then despite the fact that I think deletion would improve the article, I'm not going to delete.
MrDemeanour (talk) 15:08, 7 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why is Algorithm written with an "i" instead of a "y"?[edit]

Im asking for a friend, but wouldnt it make more sense to be "Algorythm" from "rythm"? 141.91.210.34 (talk) 09:57, 29 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Because the term 'algorithm' and the term 'rhythm' are not derived from the same source. The history section of the article explains the etymology: "The word algorithm is derived from the name of the 9th-century Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi..." Mindmatrix 12:28, 29 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]