What role do algorithms play in your daily life? Certainly, they have more importance than you think. When you do a Google search for an academic paper, you receive an advertisement for a discounted sports shoes in your mail, when you ask a virtual assistant where to have sushi tonight, you talk to a commercial chatbot to buy tickets for a concert or take a look at Netflix’s recommendations to watch a movie, there is an algorithm behind all of it.
In its simplest definition, an algorithm is an “ordered set of systematic operations that allows you to make a calculation and find the solution to a certain type of problem“. Explained for dummies, it constitutes a series of instructions completed by a machine to solve a task. For example, a 4 gigahertz PC is capable of 4 billion operations per second.
Linked to Big Data -data is the oil of the 21st century-, the high penetration of mobile devices, technologies such as 4G or 5G or the Internet of Things -the hyperconnectivity technology behind smart homes, connected cars or smart cities-, algorithms are increasingly complex and sophisticated.
Focusing on the content industry, we will name you some curiosities of the algorithm of companies like Netflix, Google or Spotify.
Spotify, the music at your feet: If you have an account on Spotify, you sure had the opportunity to enjoy its top-of-the-line service with absolutely personalized recommendations, behind which there is a great work of software, research and innovation -4 out of every 10 employees of the company are dedicated to engineering and code. Thanks to this investment, the giant of streaming provides you with the expected Weekly Discovery, playlists adapted to specific situations such as singing in the shower or going out to party and a very high degree of personalization resulting from the customization of contents, natural language processing, choices of the editors and algorithms based on your personal musical taste.
Netflix, the algorithm that makes you hit play: Recommendations by percentage of coincidence or based on your favorite movies and series… Netflix always gets you hooked and end up chaining one chapter after another in its addictive and comfortable content platform à la carte. What is the so desired key to its success? User data combination, a sophisticated algorithm and automatic learning. To make recommendations, the platform takes into account your browsing and viewing history, your way of interacting, other users’ data, your favorite categories or even the hours at which you consume content or the devices you choose for it.
Google, almost humanly accurate: The search engine giant uses several constantly updated algorithms to respond to your searches more and more accurately. They stand out in recent times the Google update for mobile devices -dating from April 2015- and Google RankBrain, a leading system that uses the AI and machine learning to decide the order in which the search results are displayed, giving priority to the contents of value in a natural way to satisfy the needs of the users. Google gives importance to your geographic location, voice searches, your history or natural language to solve your doubts and problems. A global and colossal example of the power of the algorithm.