Algorithms to Live By

By Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths,

Book cover of Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Book description

A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives.

In this dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show us how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. Modern life is constrained by limited…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Algorithms to Live By as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I always find myself applying algorithmic thinking in my everyday life—it affects the way I put away dishes, navigate to the store, and organize my to-do lists. And I think others could benefit from that mindset.

So, when I read this book, my reaction was "Yes! That's what I want people to know. I just wish I could have said it that well!" The authors (who I know, but didn't know they wrote a book together), did a fantastic job of selecting algorithms with deep human connections. Really! And they explain them just right, without getting too mathematical but while…

We have to learn how to properly use the Internet to prevent it from using us. We must comprehend the limits of artificial intelligence to take advantage of what it has to offer. Christian and Griffiths explore how algorithms can help us solve common – decisions and find strategies to humans.

Perhaps the most important reason to learn something about computer science is that it develops a way of thinking that can serve us well in everyday life. Christian and Griffiths give a host of examples in this fascinating book, many of which you will find surprising.

There is a lot of computer science here, explained in terms of familiar situations in daily life. It is probably the most accessible of the books on this list. If you read it, you will learn about numerous classical algorithms.

More importantly, this book drives home the fundamental concept that computer science is not…

From Robert's list on what computer science is all about.

Thinking algorithmically changes the way one thinks about life. Algorithms to Live By does an amazingly good job of explaining real algorithm design ideas to a general audience in the context of processes optimizing real-life decisions. You will learn why you should wait at least (n/e)th of your potential dating life to select the right spouse (I did ☺).

Searching and scheduling are critical aspects of the human condition, and doing them optimally are classical problems in algorithm theory.  This book will help you do them better in your life, by helping you understand how to solve them best algorithmically.

From Steven's list on mathematical and algorithmic thinking.

I like to think of this book as the Thinking Fast and Slow for computer science and algorithms. Danny Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow taught us how to apply ideas from psychology to our own lives. Christian and Griffiths do the same thing for algorithms—it’s what they call “human algorithm design”. I was amazed at how much I learned from this book, even after I had been teaching college computer science for years and writing books about algorithms myself.

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