The story of beta

Most everyone, who’s ever written a program or two to enumerate prime numbers, will probably know about the Sieve of Eratosthenes. The sieve algorithm is one of the earliest and simplest known algorithms to find prime numbers. But that’s just one of the things this Eratosthenes guy did. Between bumming around with his good friend Archimedes (yes, that same old philosopher guy with scant regard for social etiquette when running) and managing the Great Library of Alexandria, Eratosthenes calculated the radius of the earth, the tilt of the earth’s axis, wrote poems and basically kicked a lot of ass. But that wasn’t all.

His erudition was legendary (possibly because the guy had too much free time and too many books to read in his library) and he was famed to be no worse than second after the leading scholar of the day on every darned subject you could think up of.

No wonder then, that his friends had a special nickname for him – after the second letter of the Greek alphabet – beta! Now, you could say that the beta stuff and computer science do go back a long, long way.


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