Real-World Algorithms

Real-World Algorithms

A Beginner's Guide

By Panos Louridas

An introduction to algorithms for readers with no background in advanced mathematics or computer science, emphasizing examples and real-world problems.
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An introduction to algorithms for readers with no background in advanced mathematics or computer science, emphasizing examples and real-world problems.

Algorithms are what we do in order not to have to do something. Algorithms consist of instructions to carry out tasks—usually dull, repetitive ones. Starting from simple building blocks, computer algorithms enable machines to recognize and produce speech, translate texts, categorize and summarize documents, describe images, and predict the weather. A task that would take hours can be completed in virtually no time by using a few lines of code in a modern scripting program. This book offers an introduction to algorithms through the real-world problems they solve. The algorithms are presented in pseudocode and can readily be implemented in a computer language.

The book presents algorithms simply and accessibly, without overwhelming readers or insulting their intelligence. Readers should be comfortable with mathematical fundamentals and have a basic understanding of how computers work; all other necessary concepts are explained in the text. After presenting background in pseudocode conventions, basic terminology, and data structures, chapters cover compression, cryptography, graphs, searching and sorting, hashing, classification, strings, and chance. Each chapter describes real problems and then presents algorithms to solve them. Examples illustrate the wide range of applications, including shortest paths as a solution to paragraph line breaks, strongest paths in elections systems, hashes for song recognition, voting power Monte Carlo methods, and entropy for machine learning. Real-World Algorithms can be used by students in disciplines from economics to applied sciences. Computer science majors can read it before using a more technical text.

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Downloadable instructor resources available for this title: slides and exercises with solutions


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262035705 528 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 286 b&w illus.

Not for sale on the Indian subcontinent.


  • A broad survey of algorithmic ideas that avoids the standard 'greatest hits' approach. It includes advanced topics like voting systems and text compression that are not covered in most introductory algorithm books. Beginners will be running before they can walk!

    Steven Skiena

    Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of Computer Science, Stony Brook University; author of The Algorithm Design Manual

  • Algorithms are the central ideas in computers. Panos Louridas has written a beautiful book that will guide you on a tour through all the major algorithms. The writing is extremely clear and readable and does not assume you are an expert. The algorithms are presented with concrete and relevant examples rather than abstractly. The book can be read by anyone with a working knowledge of computers or as an introductory textbook for a student.

    Noson S. Yanofsky

    Professor, Department of Computer and Information Science, Brooklyn College; author of The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us

  • Algorithms rule the world today. Louridas finds a way to bring out the big ideas and detailed intricacies of algorithms with applications rooted in the real world. This book is an essential guide to those who want to learn how algorithms work in diverse fields.

    Mung Chiang

    Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor, Princeton University; coauthor of The Power of Networks