Most of us see algorithms as just numbers. Mathematicians and physicists see them as elaborate systems that can contain whole worlds. In a new essay, data visualization god and New York Times Graphics Editor Mike Bostock takes us inside some of the most commonly used visualization algorithms, explaining (and more importantly, showing) how they work.
Bostock delves into some pretty esoteric stuff here–topics like sampling (simplifying images through computer code), randomness (or the lack thereof in most visual systems), and sorting (reorganizing data). But thanks to relatable visual anchors, from simple mazes to Van Gogh’s Starry Night, you’ll walk away understanding a lot of it, and appreciating the rest of it.