The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms

The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms


We are slaves to the algorithm. They’re the step-by-step instructions working quietly behind the scenes of everyday life; in internet search engines, satnavs, air traffic control and food delivery services. In this entertaining and informative doc, Professor Marcus du Sautoy pulls back the curtain on these bite-sized chunks of maths to show how they complete complex operations so efficiently.

Football players are used to explain the algorithm behind Google, while he shows how Euclid’s ancient algorithm will tell you how best to tile your bathroom. They can even save lives, as the recipient of a donor kidney matched by an NHS algorithm attests: “I feel a lot of gratitude to…the algorithm.”


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

Cast & Crew

Presenter Marcus du Sautoy
Executive Producer Paul Overton