While in the terminology of the computational sciences an algorithm is often defined as a finite sequence of step-by-step instructions, which “bear a crucial, if problematic, relationship to material reality,”1 rhythm, a term closer to the study of cultural phenomena, shall be defined as an elementary movement of matter, bodies and signals, which oscillate in-between the discrete and the continuous, between the symbolic and the real, between digital and analogue. This article considers the specific role of algorithms and their rhythms. It not only addresses some important historical dimensions of contemporary computational culture, but also analyses algorithms from a systematic point of view, specifically in relation to software-induced breakdowns of distributed networks.

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