Think like a Computer Scientist

Have you ever experienced a time when you had trouble making a choice and found yourself continually looking at alternatives?  How easy is it for you to decide when to try a new restaurant or return to an old favorite?  What is the best way to make good choices when anticipating for an uncertain future?

These are all types of challenges that computer scientists face when designing computer memory, systems, and networks.  In their new book, Algorithms to Live By: the Computer Science of Human Decisions,  authors Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths explore fascinating ways that discoveries in computer science can help improve our own decision making on a wide range of problems.  Some of the topics they explore include:

  • algorithmsOptimal stopping : when to stop looking
  • Explore/exploit : the latest vs. the greatest
  • Sorting : making order
  • Bayes’s Rule : predicting the future
  • Overfitting : when to think less
  • Randomness : when to leave it to chance
  • Networking : how we connect

Algorithms to Live By is “A fascinating exploration of how insights from computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind.” (from the dust jacket)

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