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Is your supercomputer stumped? There may be a quantum solution

Some math problems are so complicated that they can bog down even the world's most powerful supercomputers. But a wild new frontier in computing that applies the rules of the quantum realm offers a different approach.

Finding alternatives to diamonds for drilling

Diamonds aren't just a girl's best friend—they're also crucial components for hard-wearing industrial components, such as the drill bits used to access oil and gas deposits underground. But a cost-efficient method to find ...

Accelerating the grapevine effect

Gossip is an efficient way to share information across large networks and has unexpected applications in solving other mathematical and machine-learning problems.

How big data can help you choose better health insurance

There are plenty of easy consumer choices. Paper clips: easy. Dish sponges: easy. Those products sit at one end of the spectrum. At the other end, impossibly distant, is health insurance.

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Algorithm

In mathematics, computing, linguistics, and related subjects, an algorithm is a finite sequence of instructions, an explicit, step-by-step procedure for solving a problem, often used for calculation and data processing. It is formally a type of effective method in which a list of well-defined instructions for completing a task, will when given an initial state, proceed through a well-defined series of successive states, eventually terminating in an end-state. The transition from one state to the next is not necessarily deterministic; some algorithms, known as probabilistic algorithms, incorporate randomness.

A partial formalization of the concept began with attempts to solve the Entscheidungsproblem (the "decision problem") posed by David Hilbert in 1928. Subsequent formalizations were framed as attempts to define "effective calculability" (Kleene 1943:274) or "effective method" (Rosser 1939:225); those formalizations included the Gödel-Herbrand-Kleene recursive functions of 1930, 1934 and 1935, Alonzo Church's lambda calculus of 1936, Emil Post's "Formulation 1" of 1936, and Alan Turing's Turing machines of 1936–7 and 1939.

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