Build Your Algorithm

Algorithmic development and intelligence is easier than you think

Oh how I love to hear the word Algorithm. It just sounds so impressive and cool. Reminds me of “The Social Network” when they write some complex formula on the window that powers their late night app. It looked something like this:

If you haven’t tried writing on a window like this, you should you feel way smarter and cooler than you actually are, but it’s fun, even if just a simple addition equation…

With all this talk of algorithms out there, you may think that people are getting crazy smart, and you’re right, they are super intelligent and building really really cool things that you and I are using everyday. But if you were to dive into what an algorithm really is, even just a bit, you might realize that anyone could build a simple algorithm that would help them make better decisions.

So what is an algorithm? Glad you asked:

al·go·rithm

ˈalɡəˌriT͟Həm/

  1. a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
  2. “a basic algorithm for division”

Pretty much it is just that a set of rules, it is a process by which a decision or determination is made based on some simple inputs and data.

I recently finished reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and he discussed this principle. Often times, regardless of the decision that needs to be made, a simple mathematical model, or set of rules will outperform the standard human intuition. Basically, that means that our brain often fools itself and makes incorrect decisions, regardless of how much “intuition” or “gut feel” you have about something, where as a simple set of rules, or mathematical principles would get you closer to better decisions more often if followed.

So yes, the Silicon Valley folks building tomorrows future are building some pretty complex algorithms that will power some amazing things for us to use that enables us to progress, but I might just suggest that you can have some simple algorithms in your life that you create to make things simpler.

Maybe a decision algorithm for creating your social agenda, or which brand to buy at the grocery store, or even the appropriate amount of relaxation time.

Its simple, and goes something like this:

  1. The key is finding a process that needs to be optimized
  2. Understanding the steps that happen each time
  3. What inputs are needed or required
  4. What data do you have
  5. How dynamic is that data
  6. Any calculations to be made
  7. Decision reached
  8. Evaluate and optimize the process

Sure you can make it more complex, but why not build some personal proprietary algorithms that enable you to make better, smarter, faster personal decisions. The “return” object for your algorithm can even just be “yes” or “no”, and if you want to get really math-y and tech-y you could have it return a 1 or 0 (which if you didn’t get that joke, that is just the binary equivalent to yes or no pretty much).

Go ahead build your personal proprietary algorithm, and let me know how it changes slash re-enables your life.

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