Pattern Recognition: Learning from Experience
—ADA LOVELACE, from her 1843 notes on the Analytical Engine
In each previous chapter, we've looked at an area in which the ability of computers far outstrips the ability of humans. For example, a computer can typically encrypt or decrypt a large file within a second or two, whereas it would take a human many years to perform the same computations by hand. For an even more extreme example, imagine how long it would take a human to manually compute the PageRank of billions of web pages according to the algorithm described in chapter 3. This task is so vast that, in practice, ...