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The Complexity of Algorithms M. D. Atkinson

Summary: The Complexity of Algorithms
M. D. Atkinson
School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences
North Haugh, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9SS
The modern theory of algorithms dates from the late 1960s when the
method of asymptotic execution time measurement began to be used. It
is argued that the subject has both an engineering and scientific wing.
The engineering wing consists of well-understood design methodologies
while the scientific wing is concerned with theoretical underpinnings. The
key issues of both wings are surveyed. Finally some personal opinions on
where the subject will go next are offered.
1 Introduction
The concept of "algorithm" is the oldest concept in Computer Science. The con-
cept is of such antiquity in fact that it may appear presumptuous for Computer
Scientists to claim it as part of their subject. However, although algorithms
have been part of scientific tradition for millennia it was not until the computer
era that they assumed the major role they now play in these traditions. Indeed,
until a few decades ago most scientists would have been hard-pressed to give
significant examples of any algorithms at all. Yet algorithms have been rou-


Source: Atkinson, Mike - Department of Computer Science, University of Otago


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences