Issue 152 - 02 | How Algorithmic Thinking Can Help You Think Smarter

By Ali Almossawi
Published April 19, 2017 10:00 a.m.
“What’s fascinating is that Babylonian tablets from the second millennium BCE reveal that ancient Babylonians wrote down their procedures for determining things like, say, compound interest or the width and length of a cistern given its height and volume using algorithms. And all throughout history, and in a variety of domains, one can see approaches to problems that resemble what we refer to today as algorithms.

That realization is intriguing for a number of reasons. One, it shows that this way of thinking about problems is rooted in ancient history. Two, it shows that it is domain-agnostic.

And so, if one were to consider how best to make algorithms compelling to the broadest audience, it seems only natural to strive to not sell the field short, by describing it in its narrowest form, but to rather frame it as a tool for thinking, and a general-purpose one at that. One that can be applied to everyday problems that may have nothing at all to do with computers.”

About Ali Almossawi | Ali Almossawi is the creator and maintainer of An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, which has been read by 2.5 million readers and translated into 18 languages, 12 of which were done by volunteers from across the world. His second book, Bad Choices, is an illustrated guide to algorithmic thinking. Ali currently works as a data visualizer at Apple and was formerly a data visualization engineer on the Firefox team at Mozilla, a research associate at Harvard, and a collaborator with the MIT Media Lab. He is an alumnus of MIT's Engineering Systems Division and Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.

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How Algorithms Can Help You Think Smarter and Live Happier
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