Chapter 1 traces the origins of algorithms from ancient Mesopotamia to Greece in the 2th century BC. The oldest known algorithms were inscribed on clay tablets by the Babylonians more than 4,000 years ago. The clay tablets document algorithms ranging from geometry to accountancy. One tablet in particular - YBC 7289 - indicates knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem thousands of years before its supposed invention by the ancient Greeks. The Greeks made other advances in algorithms. Euclid’s algorithm determines the greatest common divisor of two numbers. The Sieve of Eratosthenes finds prime numbers. Both algorithms proved to be important stepping stones to modern cryptography - the mathematics of secret messages.
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