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Poems That Solve PuzzlesThe History and Science of Algorithms$
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Chris Bleakley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198853732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198853732.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2021

Facebook and Friends

Facebook and Friends

(p.159) 9 Facebook and Friends
Poems That Solve Puzzles

Chris Bleakley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 examines how algorithms extract knowledge from data. In the 1990s, web sites began to store increasing volumes of data. A new industry grew up to exploit this data for commercial purposes. In a Harvard dorm, Mark Zuckerberg created a web site that allowed students to share personal news. The key to Facebook’s success was an algorithm invented by Zuckerberg to prioritise posts based on their popularity and relevance. The algorithm sparked a revolution in viral messaging. Netflix launched a US$1 million prize to find the most accurate algorithm for recommending movies to based users’ ratings. Google Flu Trends attempted to predict outbreaks of the flu across the USA based on Google queries. Despite initial high profile successes, the project ended in failure - an ode to the limits of data science.

Keywords:   algorithm, Facebook, EdgeRank, Mark Zukcerberg, Netflix Prize, recommender systems, Google Flu Trends, data science, big data

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