Algorithms to Live By, Brian Christian (8/10)

Applying computer science principles to everyday human-decision making

Algorithms to Live By, Brian Christian (8/10)

Rating: 8/10

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🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Applying computer science principles to everyday human-decision making
  2. Offers insights into optimizing choices in various life buckets
  3. Blends technical concepts with practical applications for problem-solving  

🎨 Impressions

  • The book was cool and engaging initially, but the more I read, the more I felt it kinda dragged on. Some of the technical parts were interesting, but they were too nerdy for my liking, and often found myself craving a chapter summary and struggling to read all the way through. That said, persevering through chapters often proved rewarded, and the book is well-structured and researched, and both intellectually stimulating and practical.

🥰 Who Would Like It?

  • People interested in the intersection of comp sci, psychology, problem-solving, and self-improvement

☘️ Top Lessons

  • Optimal stopping: The 37% rule can be applied to decisions like choosing a partner or hiring an employee, suggesting that after evaluating 37% of the options, you should choose the next best candidate that surpasses the best option so far
  • Explore/exploit trade-off: Balancing exploration (trying new things) and exploitation (capitalizing on known options) is crucial for making optimal decisions in various aspects of life, such as choosing restaurants or investing
  • Sorting and searching: Efficient techniques for organizing and retrieving information, like the quicksort algorithm and binary search, can be applied to everyday tasks, e.g. organizing a bookshelf or searching for a misplaced item
  • Scheduling and prioritization: comp sci principles like the Earliest Due Date (EDD) and Moore's Algorithm can help effectively manage time, prioritize tasks, and reduce procrastination

💬 Top 3 Quotes

  • In life, as in computer science, there are many different ways to balance the need for order and the desire for flexibility
  • The best algorithms are about doing what makes the most sense in the least amount of time
  • To be a good decision-maker, you have to be good at knowing when to stop looking for more information