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A New Popular Science Book by Chris Bleakley

Hardback and eBook out now.

Published by Oxford University Press.


Algorithms are the hidden methods that computers apply to process information and make decisions. Nowadays, our lives are run by algorithms. They determine what news we see. They influence which products we buy. They suggest our dating partners. They may even decide the outcome of national elections. They have created, and destroyed, entire industries. Despite mounting concerns, few know what algorithms are, how they work, or who created them.

Poems that Solve Puzzles tells the story of algorithms from their ancient origins to the present day and beyond. The book introduces readers to the inventors and inspirational events behind the genesis of the world’s most important algorithms. Associate Professor Chris Bleakley recounts tales of ancient lost inscriptions, Victorian steam-driven contraptions, top secret military projects, penniless academics, hippy dreamers, tech billionaires, superhuman artificial intelligences, cryptocurrencies, and quantum computing. Along the way, the book explains, with the aid of clear examples and illustrations, how the most influential algorithms work.

Compelling and impactful, Poems that Solve Puzzles tells the story of how algorithms came to revolutionise our world.

"The twenty-first century will be dominated by algorithms. Algorithm is arguably the single most important concept in the world."

Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus

A Woman Sitting in a Coffee Shop and Wri

While several excellent technical and critical treatments have emerged in recent years, I had not come across a book [on algorithms written] for the general public that would provide a deep sense for the intuitions and motivations behind their development. Chris Bleakley's new book offers this and more: conceptual rigor woven into historical vignettes in a style that I believe general readers will find truly enjoyable to read.

Cory Brunson, New Books Network

Poems that Solve Puzzles: The History and Science of Algorithms is an informative and entertaining book. It is appropriate for a wide swath of readers, from people who are interested in learning about what ‘blockchain' is without having to do any math to students and instructors in the mathematical sciences who need more examples of how these academic topics make important contributions to the technologically complex world we live in.

Ron Buckmire, Mathematical Association of America

Bleakley manages to write his scientific text in a clear language without having to use complicated terminology. This book is also valuable for the interested layman who wants to know more about the development history of this part of computer science. It is clear that Bleakley is not only the theoretical scholar, but someone who also has a practical feel for developments in computer science.

Paul Van Aelst, Humanistisch Verbond


E-Book and Paperback Editions in Dutch Out Now!

New Scientist

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About the Author

Chris Bleakley is a Professor of the School of Computer Science at University College Dublin in Ireland. Chris has thirty-five years of experience in algorithm design. He has taught and written on the subject for the last sixteen years.

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