This one is for you nerds

This morning in perpetually sunny London, as I walked from my flat to the Warwick Avenue tube station, I noticed something that almost made me tremble in awe and excitement. I could barely hold my iPhone still to take a picture. I’m living around the corner from the house where Alan Turing was born! ALAN TURING! Even though I’m not a programmer myself, I find that pretty awesome. Behold and rejoice, my fellow nerds:

Alan Turing's birthplace

Alan Turing, one of the fathers of computer science, formalised the concept of the algorithm through his description of Turing machines.

At Mendeley, we’re fond of algorithms. While we strive to keep our software’s user interface as simply and appealing as possible, there are quite a lot of complex algorithms huffing and puffing and toiling away in the background.

One automatically extracts the metadata from the text of an academic paper (to spare you from typing it in manually), while another takes a fingerprint from the paper’s text and anonymously matches it against other fingerprints on the Mendeley server, with the goal of improving the metadata recognition quality – so the more people use Mendeley, the better the quality becomes.

A further not-so-simple algorithm parses the cited references in the end and turns them into a machine-readable format (so you can search them, apply citation styles, and export them). An additional one matches these extracted references to documents already in your library (to automatically capture the hidden citation network already existent on your computer). Then there’s the building of the full-text index and, coming soon, the recommendation engine.

By the way, the place where Alan Turing was born is now the Colonnade Hotel. If you’re a rich nerd, you can stay there! So did Sigmund Freud, who’s got a suite named after him.

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