Algorithmic Efficiency - History

History

The first machines that were capable of computation were severely limited by purely mechanical considerations. As later electronic machines were developed they were, in turn, limited by the speed of their electronic counterparts. As software replaced hard-wired circuits, the efficiency of algorithms remained important. It has long been recognized that the precise 'arrangement of processes' is critical in reducing elapsed time.

  • "In almost every computation a great variety of arrangements for the succession of the processes is possible, and various considerations must influence the selections amongst them for the purposes of a calculating engine. One essential object is to choose that arrangement which shall tend to reduce to a minimum the time necessary for completing the calculation"

Ada Lovelace 1815–1852, generally considered as 'the first programmer' who worked on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer
  • "In established engineering disciplines a 12% improvement, easily obtained, is never considered marginal and I believe the same viewpoint should prevail in software engineering"

Extract from "Structured Programming with go to Statements" by Donald Knuth, renowned computer scientist, Professor Emeritus and author of the Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University.
  • "The key to performance is elegance, not battalions of special cases"

attributed to Jon Bentley and (Malcolm) Douglas McIlroy

Read more about this topic:  Algorithmic Efficiency

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