Day: October 16, 2014

The definition of algorithmThe definition of algorithm

“An algorithm is defined by a sequence of steps and instructions that can be applied to data. Algorithms generate categories for filtering information, operate on data, look for patterns and relationships, or generally assist in the analysis of information. The steps taken by an algorithm are informed by the author’s knowledge, motives, biases, and desired outcomes. The output of an algorithm may not reveal any of those elements, nor may it reveal the probability of a mistaken outcome, arbitrary choice, or the degree of uncertainty in the judgment it produces. So-called ‘learning algorithms’ which underpin everything from recommendation engines to content filters evolve with the datasets that run through them, assigning different weights to each variable. The final computer-generated product or decision—used for everything from predicting behavior to denying opportunity—can mask prejudices while maintaining a patina of scientific objectivity.” – Executive Office of the President, Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values