A new computer program works smarter, not harder, to solve problems faster than its predecessors. The algorithm is designed to find the best solution to a given problem among all possible options. Whereas other computer programs winnow down the possibilities one at a time, the new program — presented July 12 at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm — rules out many choices at once. For instance, imagine a computer is assigned to compile movie recommendations based on a particular film. The ideal recommendation list would include suggestions that are both similar to the original flick — say, in the same genre — yet different enough from each other to give the viewer a variety of choice. A traditional recommendation system would pore over an entire movie library to find films that best met those criteria and add films to its roster of recommendations one by one, a relatively slow and tedious process. By contrast, the new program starts by … [Read more...] about Solving problems by computer just got a lot faster

# Computing

## ‘Weird Math’ aims to connect numbers and equations to the real world

Weird Math David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee Basic Books, $27 Weird Math sets out to “reveal the strange connections between math and everyday life.” The book fulfills that laudable goal, in part. At times, teenage math prodigy Agnijo Banerjee and his tutor, science writer David Darling, find ways to make complex math relatable, like linking chaos theory to weather forecasting and virtual reality. But there’s a tension between precision and accessibility, and the authors don’t always find the sweet spot. The book offers an in-depth exploration of the history of a number of mathematical concepts that Banerjee and Darling find intriguing. Some of their choices — including the mathematics of music, higher dimensions and chaos theory — are written in clear, accessible language that many science-interested readers will connect with. The chapter on higher dimensions, for example, illustrates the utility of math for … [Read more...] about ‘Weird Math’ aims to connect numbers and equations to the real world