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10 Algorithm Examples in Everyday Life

10 Algorithm Examples Used In Your Daily Life

Algorithms go beyond computer science. We’ve used algorithms to learn the most basic human functions and operate our daily lives.

Algorithms are more simple than we think. From an early age, we are taught how to complete day-to-day tasks. Algorithms first taught us how to count, sort, walk, and tie our shoes.

What Are Algorithms?

To break it down, algorithms are a sequence of tasks done in response to an initial situation. When the word algorithm is thrown around it conjures up images of tech startups and binary code. However, algorithms have more use cases than just computer science. 

From an early age, we are taught how to complete day-to-day tasks. Algorithms first taught us how to count, sort, walk, and tie our shoes. Almost all processes are taught to us with step-by-step instructions. Essentially, we are learning algorithmic thinking to work through problem-solving.

A good algorithm maintains a level of correctness while being efficient. Another important component is comprehensibility. An easy-to-understand algorithm makes it easier to use in everyday life. Algorithmic and computational thinking is so pervasive that it governs the most simple things in our daily lives.

Algorithm Examples in Everyday Life

  1. Recipes
  2. Sorting Papers
  3. Traffic Signals
  4. Bus Schedules
  5. GPS
  6. Facial Recognition
  7. Spotify
  8. Google Search
  9. Facebook
  10. Online Shopping

1. Recipes

Just like sorting papers and even tying your shoes, following a recipe is a type of algorithm. The goal of course is to create a duplicated outcome. To complete a recipe you have to follow given set of instructions. If you are making bread, you’ll need to gather your ingredients, combine them in a certain way, and that will create a predictable outcome.

2. Sorting Papers

A simple task and yet it uses algorithmic thinking. When you are sorting office files or your personal documents you are implementing an algorithm. In its most basic sense, you are following a set of steps to achieve an outcome. The reason sorting papers is a great example is because it shows the variety of tasks and specifications algorithms can use. For instance, you can sort your files alphabetically, by word count, date, and countless others. The goal is to simplify the organizational process by using small tasks.

3. Traffic Signals

The programming implemented in traffic signals considers real-time traffic flow and groups general sets of movements into phases. For instance, traveling through a lane and turning right would be grouped into one phase. 

To maintain safety, traffic lights need a smart algorithm that detects the phases and times movement correctly. Every time you pull up to a red light, the traffic signal is cycling through phases. An algorithm is being used to determine the best time for you to continue through the intersection based on traffic volume.

4. Bus Schedules

To map out all the city bus routes would be a hefty manual task. Therefore, algorithms are used to determine the best routes to save time and fuel. The algorithm should be able to predict the time it will take for a bus to reach a given pickup point. Public transportation is vital to so many as a means of traveling to work, the grocery store, and school. In the United States, 34 million times each weekday, people rely on public transportation. This demand makes bus schedule algorithms essential to daily transportation. 

5. GPS

The Global Position System changed the way we approach travel and navigation. It works by pinging satellites and transmitting a unique signal to each one. With these signals, the GPS uses an algorithm to compute the location of a user. This information is implemented by the GPS to map out the distance of a route and travel time. GPS and location tracking are so pervasive that an average of 15 million Americans allow some form of an app to track their location regularly.

6. Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is the mechanics behind many phone logins and it runs on an algorithm. The system works by using a biometrics map to plot facial features from a photo or video. It then takes this information and compares it to a known database of faces to find a match. This is how it can verify your identity to unlock your iPhone.

7. Spotify

With 200 million premium subscribers worldwide, Spotify has become a staple in how we listen to music everyday. Like any streaming service Spotify employs algorithms to present you with music choices that will pique your interest and keep you on the platform.

The general rule of thumb for determining if you like a song or not all depends on the first 30 seconds. If a user skips an unsaved song before the 30-second mark, Spotify counts that as a thumbs down. The algorithm is crucial to making decent ad revenue and retaining premium subscribers. All in all, it is working as around 90% of Spotify’s revenue comes from premium subscribers.

8. Google Search

With 5.4 billion Google searches a day, it is no wonder Google is the top search engine. The secret to its algorithmic success is Google’s PageRank Feature. This is a patented process that determines the order of each search result as it appears on the search engine return page. Many users tend to focus on the sites that come up at the top of the list. Therefore, a spot up there is crucial to being discovered. 

While Google keeps the main algorithm a secret, the Page Rank algorithm has been explained. Essentially, the system assigns a score to every search result. The higher the page’s score, the farther up the search results page it will appear. Scores are determined in part by the number of web pages that link to it. The logic here is that the more links a page has to it the more credible it must be. This linking system is useful for Google as it helps the algorithm organize results in a meaningful way.

9. Facebook

Facebook draws over 1.9 billion daily users. A large part of the platform’s success comes down to its use of algorithms. Facebook’s algorithm is perhaps one of the most successful examples out there. The algorithm drives ad revenue, viral trends, and user retention on their site.

The goal of the programming is to keep users scrolling and personalize a user feed. The Facebook algorithm ranks any and all available posts that can be displayed on a user’s feed. What posts end up on the feed itself is determined by how likely that user will engage and like that specific content. These are the main factors used to determine the ranking:

on the sites that come up at the top of the list. Therefore, a spot up there is crucial to being discovered. 

While Google keeps the main algorithm a secret, the Page Rank algorithm has been explained. Essentially, the system assigns a score to every search result. The higher the page’s score, the farther up the search results page it will appear. Scores are determined in part by the number of web pages that link to it. The logic here is that the more links a page has to it the more credible it must be. This linking system is useful for Google as it helps the algorithm organize results in a meaningful way.

  1. The inventory of posts available. 
  2. Predictions on how much you will like that post.
  3. The context of the posts.

According to Facebook’s 2021 Q2 Earnings reports, in 2020 Facebook made an average of $6.87 in ad revenue from each user. Imagine this number multiplied by the 1.93 billion users they have.

  1. The inventory of posts available. 
  2. Predictions on how much you will like that post.
  3. What the posts are about.

 

According to Facebook’s 2021 Q2 Earnings reports, in 2020 Facebook made an average of $6.87 of ad revenue off of each user. Imagine this number multiplied by the 1.93 billion users they have. That is a lot of earnings.

10. Online Shopping

During the pandemic, 80% of Americans shopped for groceries online with $1.137 trillion total in sales. Today, grocery E-commerce sales make up 9.5% of the total grocery revenue in the U.S. and brought in $1.097 trillion this year. The trend continues to this day with 263 million American consumers shopping online. E-commerce uses algorithms on a daily basis to track shopper interests and improve sales. Most sites use algorithms that are programmed for machine learning. The main reasons algorithms are used in E-commerce are:

  1. Increase understanding of the target customer.
  2. Predict customer preferences and intent.

These elements are crucial to a site’s success as they entice consumers to not only buy but keep scrolling. The algorithms not only promote products but they collect data to sell relevant ad space on their site. A general estimate is that in three months an average US small commerce site can make $150,000. And corporations like Amazon with over 300 million users can net around $280.5 billion.

Algorithms are Everywhere

With these real-life applications, it is clear to see just how pervasive algorithms are in our world today. While they provide a lot of useful services, it is easy for simple programs to be taken advantage of by “Big Tech” and countless others. Facebook, Google, and other E-commerce sites like Amazon all use data and algorithms to to make money. Invisibly allows you to maximize the value of your data and earn brand rewards for it, because your data is worth more than you realize —and it’s time to get your cut.

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