2021 Trend Almanac: Technologies and trends that will dominate the business and consumer landscape. Get instant access
Algorithms are a series of instructions that inform a task. They impact elements of daily life in significant ways, from the laptops we work on to the personal electronics we use to track our physical activity. Algorithms within these devices are essentially “step-by-step” lists of instructions that “tell” a device how to use data or complete a task.
In the world of computer science, algorithms are considered the building blocks of programming. Large digital networks draw on the power of algorithms to search, sort, categorize and streamline data. An efficient computer algorithm, for example, can quickly interpret and sort large amounts of data to scale business operations and maximize profits. Similarly, dynamic algorithms work behind the scenes to anticipate, isolate and address critical network failures in real time.
Beyond the simple mathematical function of an algorithm lies the potential for a computer to engage in “machine learning.” Algorithms are used to facilitate artificial intelligence, allowing a computer to move beyond simple executive function to engage in automated reasoning. Using pattern recognition and data mining, computers can independently analyze online behavior to make judgements about what a user sees, then deliver targeted content designed to influence user activity online.
Algorithms have many practical business applications, allowing the user to