Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Reviewed By: Morgan Lopez (September 25, 2020)

“Algorithm” seemed like a mysterious and complex word that would always be just beyond the scope of my comprehension. After reading this book by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths—and with some help from COSC-051and 052!—I was able to recognize how computing algorithms are applied to our everyday lives. Being able to relate what is discussed in the classroom to human decision making is an incredibly helpful way to not only better understand algorithms but also to better understand your own thought process.

Christian and Griffiths explore how a multitude of computing algorithms apply to our everyday lives. Their book takes an algorithmic—though never robotic nor mechanical—approach towards assessing “human questions.” They pose strategies that can help with everything from finding a parking spot to optimizing a busy schedule. Algorithms to Live By examines optimal stopping, networking, randomness and more by striking a unique balance between the world of computer science and the world in which we live. 

With thought-provoking narration and the minimum level of technical jargon necessary, readers are not only able to understand the logic behind these algorithms but are also able to relate to what these algorithms accomplish. This book is great for readers who are interested in the intersection of computer science and decision-making and want to be introduced to the logic behind algorithms. Algorithms to Live By reveals how similar our problems are to the problems of computers and I am certain that every reader will put down this book with an enhanced ability to recognize the patterns that quietly rule our lives

The next pages begin our journey through some of the biggest challenges faced by computers and human minds alike: how to manage finite space, finite time, limited attention, unknown unknowns, incomplete information, and an unforeseeable future; how to do so with grace and confidence; and how to do so in a community with others who are all simultaneously trying to do the same.

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
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