In a world powered by algorithms, two mathematicians have helped pioneer the field of computational complexity — that is, the study of the speed and efficiency of algorithms. László Lovász of Budapest, Hungary, and Avi Wigderson of Princeton, US, will share this year’s Abel prize, often described as the Nobel prize of mathematics.
Computational complexity synthesizes math and computer science — two seemingly unrelated disciplines — to work out which algorithm is more efficient and uses fewer steps to complete a task.
“Any process is an algorithm – neurons in the brain or planets in the solar system or crises in the financial markets, all of these have some fixed rules. What can be applied to computers can be applied to basically everything,” Wigderson said. He and Lovász will split the prize money of about C$1.1 million.
Algorithms are designed to make things more efficient, and this new field of study will further accelerate that acceleration process — what will this mean for our relationships with technology, and even the way our brains work?
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