Just like humans, algorithms vary in popularity: some get all the attention, while others languish unnoticed, even if they’re actually quite special. That’s why there’s now a dating site for them.
Wait, what? No, it’s true, honest. A startup called Algorithmia is set up especially to match up researchers and data analysts with the perfect way to probe their data (snigger). This is, effectively, matchmaking for algorithms. You see, many of the algorithms written in academia are used for their original analysis and then, even if they’re wonderful, simply sit in the journal or on web server to which they were published. Essentially, all the hard work put in by researchers sits unused for anything but its original purpose.
While many of the algorithms are highly specific, tuned for the research they were originally written for, many can offer new insights for others too — without the need for all the man hours required to develop new software. This is where Algorithmia steps in, reports Technology Review.
The model is simple. Researchers can list their algorithms on the site with an explanation of what they can do (no jokes about vital statistics, please). Then, when someone searches for software to fulfil a certain task, appropriate algorithms are offered up. If someone chooses to use one, they pay a small fee to the original developer and Algorithmia takes a small cut. (The economics are subtly different to a dating site, yes. Or at least most dating sites.)
It’s a neat idea, and one that should lead to better code too. Putting this kind of thing out in the open means people hold themselves to higher standards, and even then other users will be able to bug-check too. The site is currently in private beta testing, but it looks set to go public soon. [Algorithmia via Technology Review]
Picture: Michael Himbeault /Flickr