Video Script

In this module, we’re going to learn about algorithms. But before we can discuss algorithms, let’s take a look at something that you might be very familiar with and see how it actually relates to the idea of an algorithm. For example, we can ask ourselves, how do you shuffle cards? It’s something that is really hard to describe. But once you see it, and you can observe other people doing it, it’s pretty easy to understand what’s going on. But to really know how to shuffle cards, we have to ask ourselves, what items do we need? What tools do we need? Do we need any skills and do any prior knowledge for example, we need to know what a deck of cards is, we need to know what shuffling means we need to know how to manipulate the cards in such a way that they will become shuffled. And of course, even then, the terminology we use is still very difficult. In years past, when I’ve asked students how to shuffle cards, they’ll usually tell me something like cut the deck and then hold them up like this and then ruffle the cards together and it will work. But of course, if you don’t know that cutting the deck means separating the top half from the bottom half and not taking a pair of scissors and cutting them in half. That might be really hard to understand.

And so in this module, we’re going to talk about algorithms and specifically, why it’s very important when you’re writing an algorithm for a computer to be very specific and very explicit about the steps you want it to take. Otherwise, it will not do exactly what you want it to do. So first, we can talk about where the word algorithm comes from. And the word algorithm comes from the name Al - Khwarizmi, which is a shorter version of the name of Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi . He was a mathematician in the 9th century A.D in Persia. And one of the things he did is he wrote a lot of books on contemporary mathematics. And one of his books was very unique because it included a set of steps to solve some common mathematical problems. And those steps form the basis of what we now call an algorithm for solving those problems. And so in the next video after this, we’re going to see a little bit more about The history of Al-Khwarizmi and why he is so important and so interesting in the field of computer science.