It definitely is. But the problems your managers throw at you are not: "Reverse this list in O(1) time while standing on your head", but rather, this is the client, this are his features, get them done next week and make sure everything works without writing tests and put in 40 hours overtime without being able to write them off later.
Dunno, it was more than once that I had to read research papers or at least textbooks to properly implement algorithms. Again, this is not to disagree with you, I agree that the stuff is mostly useless, but we all do different work and it's not impossible to get paid for mostly useless stuff, sometimes. : )