“There seems to be this sort of perfect storm of interest in steampunk right now,” Mr. von Slatt said. “If you go to Google Trends and track the number of times it is mentioned, the curve is almost algorithmic from a year and a half ago.” (At this writing, Google cites 1.9 million references.)Here's the curve at Google Trends. It looks linear to me, although with a lot of noise. I suspect, though, that the speaker meant to say it was exponential (because exponentials grow really fast, so this would be in keeping with the rest of the article), then confused that with "logarithmic" (which is a pretty common mistake), and then rearranged a few letters to get "algorithmic".

And a random Google Trends fact: the number of people searching for mathematics has declined steadily over the past four years. Math has been basically flat over that time period, but shows a very large dip during the summers. Presumably the people searching for "math" are students. Maths displays what appears to be a more complicated seasonal pattern; can this be explained by the UK academic calendar. As for "mathematics" declining, I suspect people find the word too long.

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On a related note, people say "exponential" when they really mean "fast." Exponential growth can be excruciatingly slow, at first, and not everything that's growing quickly is growing exponentially.

Algorithm revealed!

f(t+1)=f(t)+c

Could it be that people (students?)are now searching for specific phrases on Google, such as "differential equations" or "geometry", instead of just searching for "math" or "mathematics"? After all, terms that are too general don't return useful search results. For instance, a Google search for "sex" returns mostly "uninteresting" results, at least on the first page!

Would a

non-algorithmic curve be one whose points cannot be computed by a Turing machine? Say, a polynomial whose coefficients are drawn from Chatin's constant?They call it "maths" in Australia too, but their academic calendar is shifted by six months. That might explain the more complicated seasonal pattern.

It's moderately interesting that the number of people searching for "math" dips lower over Christmas break than it does over the summer.

A more common non-algorithmic curve is one that comes from empirical data. We don't really have algorithms for presidential preferences...

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