Evaluating polynomials

05/05/2020

Evaluating polynomials is not a thing I do very often. When I do, it’s for interpolation and splines; and traditionally those are done with relatively low degree polynomials—cubic at most. There are a few rather simple tricks you can use to evaluate them efficiently, and we’ll have a look at them.

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Factorial Approximations

31/03/2020

n! (and its logarithm) keep showing up in the analysis of algorithm. Unfortunately, it’s very often unwieldy, and we use approximations of n! (or \log n!) to simplify things. Let’s examine a few!

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YoU CanT MaKE BuBBleSorT FaSTER With ASseMbLY

14/01/2020

In one of the classes I teach, we end up writing assembly language programs. And while I explain the (sometimes very relative) benefits of writing assembly language, I use bubble sort as an example where even carefully crafted assembly language doesn’t mean much: it’s a bad algorithm to start with.

YoU CanT MaKE BuBBleSorT FaSTER With ASseMbLY

Except that it’s not quite true.

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Fast Exponentiation, revisited

12/11/2019

Quite a while ago, I presented a fast exponentiation algorithm that uses the binary decomposition of the exponent n to perform O(\log_2 n) products to compute x^n.

While discussing this algorithm in class, a student asked a very interesting question: what’s special about base 2? Couldn’t we use another base? Well, yes, yes we can.

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(Sub)bit-fields (Coding with fractions of bits, Part II)

13/08/2019

Last week, we used the 6×7×6 palette as an example of very simple fraction-of-a-bit coding1. However, we can generalize still a bit more to allow single field extraction and modification

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The 6×7×6 palette (Coding with fractions of bits, Part I)

06/08/2019

Remember ye olde dayes when we had to be mindful of the so-called “web safe palette“? Once upon a time, screens could display 24-bits colors, but only 256 at a time in some “hi-res” modes. But that’s not what I’m going to tell you about: I’d rather tell you about the encoding of the palette, and about a somewhat better palette. And also about using fractions of bits for more efficient encodings.

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Discrete Inversion (Generating Random Sequences XII)

30/07/2019

While this sounds something like a shameful family secret, discrete inversion is only the finite-valued variation on the method of inversion for the generation of random numbers with a given distribution (as I’ve discussed quite a while ago here). The case we’ll consider here is a random variable with few possible outcomes, each with different odds

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