Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cawdrey on Aphabetization

Alphabetization can be an important algorithm in storing and finding notes. It is somewhat amazing how long it took to take hold. One of the earlier instructions for how to use the alphabet can be found in Robert Cawdry's A Table Alphabeticall of 1604:
If thou be desirous (gentle Reader) rightly and readily to vnderstand, and to profit by this Table, and such like, then thou must learne the Alphabet, to wit, the order of the Letters as they stand, perfecty without booke, and where euery Letter standeth: as (b) neere the beginning, (n) about the middest, and (t) toward the end. Nowe if the word, which thou art desirous to finde, begin with (a) then looke in the beginning of this Table, but if with (v *) looke towards the end. Againe, if thy word beginne with (ca) looke in the beginning of the letter (c) but if with (cu) then looke toward the end of that letter. And so of all the rest. &c.[1]
It's still true ...

1. See also Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, Algorithms to Live By. The Computer Science of Human Decisions (New York: Henry Holt & Co., LLC, 2016).

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