I follow many companies and organizations that push the envelope of technology. Today, a prominent example is Google. Since its founding in 1998, it has had a formative impact on the World Wide Web.

Google began with PageRank. Mathematically, this *iterative ranking algorithm* uses properties of the nodes (pages) and edges (links) in the Web to find relevant content. For instance, the most relevant pages given a search query. This has turned out quite well for Google.

Interestingly, it seems PageRank-like algorithms actually originate in the 1940s:

One crucial feature of this idea is that it requires an iterative approach to constantly re-evaluate the value of a page as the importance of others varies. Iterative ranking algorithms have since become an important part of network theory.

The article then traces PageRank-like algorithms back through the 20th Century, to 1965 and even 1941.

A fundamental mathematical pattern is discovered and explored multiple times over many decades, and eventually forms the basis for a information revolution.