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The sleekest link algorithm

Higham, Desmond J. and Taylor, Alan (2003) The sleekest link algorithm. Mathematics Today, 39. pp. 192-197. ISSN 1361-2042

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Abstract

How does Google decide which web sites are important? It uses an ingenious algorithm that exploits the structure of the web and is resistant to hacking. Here, we describe this PageRank algorithm, illustrate it by example, and show how it can be interpreted as a Jacobi iteration and a teleporting random walk. We also ask the algorithm to rank the undergraduate mathematics classes offered at the University of Strathclyde. PageRank draws upon ideas from linear algebra, graph theory and stochastic processes, and it throws up research-level challenges in scientific computing. It thus forms an exciting and modern application area that could brighten up many a mathematics class syllabus.