In circuit complexity, the polynomial method is a general approach to proving circuit lower bounds in restricted settings. One shows that functions computed by sufficiently restricted circuits are "correlated" in some way with a low-complexity polynomial, where complexity may be measured by the degree of the polynomial or the number of monomials. Then, results limiting the capabilities of low-complexity polynomials are extended to the restricted circuits. Old theorems proved by this method have recently found interesting applications to the design of algorithms for basic problems in the theory of computing. This paper surveys some of these applications, and gives a few new ones.