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Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
Audiobook11 hours

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4/5

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About this audiobook

A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us.

In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

LanguageEnglish
Release dateApr 19, 2016
ISBN9781480560352
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

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Author

Brian Christian

Brian Christian is the author of The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive, which was a Wall Street Journal bestseller and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. Alongside Steven Pinker and Daniel Kahneman, he was shortlisted for the Best Book of Ideas prize in the UK.

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Reviews for Algorithms to Live By

Rating: 4.096219931271477 out of 5 stars
4/5

582 ratings46 reviews

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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    A very interesting primer on the sort of "real-life problems" that have parallels with computer science problems, explained elegantly without numbers and formulae, opting for the better approach of explaining the rationale behind the problems, their assumptions and how they lead to a desired output. Highly recommended for everyone looking to improve in practical matters, this book throws in a good number of questions to ponder about in our lives, expectations and how we go about reaching them
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Thought provoking on multiple levels.Decisions, while part and parcel of the human condition, are increasingly being foisted onto computers. In order to accomplish this, the complexity of the decision must be manipulated to allow the machine to come to a "good' decision however "good" has been defined. Turns out that deconstructing decision making for computers can teach humans a thing or two about decision best practices. Authors Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths apply the problems and solutions of algorithm construction to humans and provide us with a manual of how to streamline some of the messy conundrums we can find ourselves in. It's a good book and I learned a great deal about computers processes. And I did learn a number of interesting insights into human decision making. What I did not appreciate with the book was a subtle implied superiority of computers versus humans. I supposed I shouldn't be surprised as both authors are heavily involved in the artifical intelligence community but I am of the mind that the loss of data required in reversion to the mean/median can often entail the loss of the most interesting data. Plus the restricting of inputs/options which the authors labeled as a computational 'kindness' can be anything but (why does the US presidental election come to mind here?). So while I can most definitely recommend this book to just about anyone it is a recomendation that comes with reservations.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    First off, I'm a computer scientist, so a lot of these principles were old hat. However, in many cases I hadn't made the connection to human behavior.The books takes you through a variety of basic computer science theory, then explains how it relates to real life (your own decisions or tasks, sports, games, or life in general). I appreciated having these connections pointed out, but often the chapters got bogged down in example after example. After several pages covering one example, the last thing I needed was yet another example.The book was not a light, enjoyable read. It required effort, concentration and a good deal of willpower to continue. I would have preferred a lighter handling of each section with more takeaways. If you're looking for an entertaining yet helpful trip through the overlap between computer science and your behavior, look elsewhere.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Best consumed in short bursts. I was conflicted with this book. I either loved it or I hated it. Sometimes both in the same reading session.The authors attempt to take the highly specialized world of algorithms, explain them in common terms the college educated should track with, then relate them to modern life, and then make the jump to explaining social behaviors. I would grade those three as A+, C-, and F.In the end I found I really enjoyed reading this book when I took a single chapter at a time, and just focused on the front half of the chapter explaining common algorithms in depth. I fast forwarded through some bits to keep from getting frustrated. so in summary: Best consumed in short bursts.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    This book is not what I expected, but it was better! I hadn't thought about many of the concepts in this, or analyzed my logic when it came to making decisions in these types of situations. Many of the theories were described in new ways, and I recommend taking your time reading this to really consider the points made. This is not a single-sitting type of read, but it raised interesting questions and insights into my own thinking. Definitely a worthy read...!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Great summary of computers and algorithms that are used in everyday life
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Mind = blown. Going to re-read this bad boy a couple of times in order to implement it.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Excellent! Puts your mind to work outside and find solutions
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Best book for CS , good way for learning how algorithms work and the origin problems they were trying to solve.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    The book starts with simple entered auction to some of Famous computer algorithms and how computer scientists have solved complexity usimg these algorithms. One chapter usually covers one algorithm like Optimal Stopping problem in chapter 1. It then makes a shift to human behavior showing how we can leverage this algorithm to solve our daily life problems. A very readable and a fun book.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    It presents a lots of decicion makeing problems and dilemmas, that people are confronting in real life sitations. Almost every dilemma I already faced it and this made me thinking a lot about it.

    It’s a great book, I will read it at least twice again.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Great book and I don’t even like computers!






  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Good guide for taking statistics and algorithms accomplishments from programming world to a day to day life. Should be pactical and applicable for most sometime in an unexpected field.
    Worth it!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    good book to read it is open your mind, must be read
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Really enjoyable. I got a few heuristics from this that I don't think I would have otherwise and validated some of my own experiences against compsci literature. Neat listen.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Excelente libro... no solo para las personas del mundo de la computación, sino para cualqueira que tenga interés en la complejidad de los problemas de la vida diaria
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Though at times hard to follow, the book is well written and informative. Love the real life cases to get their main idea across.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Good book for people getting into computer science, and simple enough to understand
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This is a great book. However, audio isn't the best way to put it, especially since it can be 20 minutes of story to illustrate 1 generalized algorithm for advice. Since it is audio, it can be harder to find the algorithms again. Therefore, you need to take notes
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Concise, sharp and entertaining with many practical suggestions for your peace of mind.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    The idea of this book is awesome. But this could be written in around 150 pages. I think this book is too long for the knowledge it provides.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    As an Engineer/programmer I found this title extraodinary. It portrays the reasoning behind analytical thinking without complicating you with the math.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Ingenious book about how many human decision problems are in fact algorithmic, i.e. the kind of problems researched in computer science. The authors structure the book around classes of algorithms (eg. sorting, optimal stop, regularization, network flow, bayesian stats or game theory) and find interesting anecdotes or every day life examples of each algorithm.
    You won't learn any math, programming or even pseudo-coding from "Algorithms to live by", but it will give most readers a broad range of examples of how computer science is not just about computers, but the study of complexity and how to do decision making using rules (which may be automated).

  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    I did not find the information of this book useful.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Good book, but not so good audio quality, probably due to conversion at some point.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Some chapters are interesting enough, but not all. Now I only have to figure out an algorithm to have the best chance of reading the good chapters while not having to read all of them...

    1 person found this helpful

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Quite complex mathematical themes to optimise our lives made comprehensive and hence so very enjoyable and priceless to the listener. The first hearing is a foretaste of this complex subject. I will listen to it a few more times to cover the areas I have missed or needing reinforcements. Perhaps the audio book accompanied by the actual written book will make optimal cerebral assimilation.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Subtitle "The computer science of hard decisions"It seems at the face of it very simplistic, and my thesis from a quick read is that it suffers from a fundamental fallacy. Computers are immortal, and don't suffer existential problems where if they make a bad decision they don't get to make decisions any more. Humans are mortal and have to somehow decide in the presence of decisions that may be catastrophic.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Excellent presentation of the way computers work and how we can use those algorithms to our daily life.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    A good introduction in some of the main algorithms and design principles discovered in software development, which can be applied in general to many situations. However, the book oversimplifies real life scenarios, only to then further point out that these algorithms can actually not be applied because of the many variables in real life (while listening you already think about scenarios, where it does not apply). These situations happen to often and so there is no real aha-moment throughout the book and the take away at the end is that there is no optimal algorithm after all to live by as human intuition and common sense mostly covers all the bases for efficient living already. What remains is a long breathed general intro into algorithms with little to no effect on real life.