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Algorithms: The Secret Rules of Modern Living

Technology
Without us noticing, modern life has been taken over. Algorithms run everything from search engines on the internet to satnavs and credit card data security - they even help us travel the world, find love and save lives. Professor Marcus du Sautoy demystifies the hidden world of algorithms. By showing us some of the algorithms most essential to our lives, he reveals where these 2,000-year-old problem solvers came from, how they work, what they have achieved and how they are now so advanced they can even programme themselves.

The Story of Maths The Language of the Universe

2008    Science
This four-part British television series outlines aspects of the history of mathematics. Written and presented by University of Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy, it is a co-production between the Open University and the BBC. In the first episode, Marcus du Sautoy in Egypt uncovers use of a decimal system based on ten fingers of the hand and discovers that the way we tell the time is based on the Babylonian Base 60 number system. In Greece, he looks at the contributions of some of the giants of mathematics including Plato, Archimedes and Pythagoras, who is credited with beginning the transformation of mathematics from a counting tool into the analytical subject of today. A controversial figure, Pythagoras’ teachings were considered suspect and his followers seen as social outcasts and a little be strange and not in the norm. There is a legend going around that one of his followers, Hippasus, was drowned when he announced his discovery of irrational numbers. As well as his work on the properties of right angled triangles, Pythagoras developed another important theory after observing musical instruments. He discovered that the intervals between harmonious musical notes are always in whole number intervals.
Series: The Story of Maths

Precision the Measure of All Things

2013    Science
Professor Marcus du Sautoy explores why we are driven to measure and quantify the world around us and why we have reduced the universe to just a handful of fundamental units of measurement. He tells the story of the metre and the second - how an astonishing journey across revolutionary France gave birth to the metre, and how scientists today are continuing to redefine the measurement of time and length, with extraordinary results.

The Hunt for Artificial Intelligence

2012    Technology
Marcus Du Sautoy wants to find out how close we are to creating machines that can think like us: robots or computers that have artificial intelligence. His journey takes him to a strange and bizarre world where AI is now taking shape. Marcus meets two robots who are developing their own private language, and attempts to communicate to them. He discovers how a super computer beat humans at one of the toughest quiz shows on the planet, Jeopardy". And finds out if machines can have creativity and intuition like us. Marcus is worried that if machines can think like us, then he will be out of business. But his conclusion is that AI machines may surprise us with their own distinct way of thinking.

The Code: Shapes

2011    Science
Marcus du Sautoy uncovers the patterns that explain the shape of the world around us. Starting at the hexagonal columns of Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway, he discovers the code underpinning the extraordinary order found in nature - from rock formations to honeycomb and from salt crystals to soap bubbles. Marcus also reveals the mysterious code that governs the apparent randomness of mountains, clouds and trees and explores how this not only could be the key to Jackson Pollock's success, but has also helped breathe life into hugely successful movie animations.

The Secret You

2009    Medicine
Professor Marcus du Sautoy goes in search of answers to one of science's greatest mysteries: how do we know who we are? While the thoughts that make us feel as though we know ourselves are easy to experience, they are notoriously difficult to explain. He has his mind scrambled by a cutting-edge experiment in anaesthesia. After, Marcus is given an out-of-body experience in a bid to locate his true self.

2017  Art

2013  Science

2021  Science

2007  Art

2016  Nature

2021  Nature

2021  Medicine

2024  Science