Book Review: Algorithms to Live by

Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Algorithms to Live by is one of my top favorite books! I’m a CS grad student and I have studied all the topics mentioned in this book like sorting, caching, overfitting, networking, game theory etc in great theoretical depth. After reading this book I think it can be understood and enjoyed by both CS and non-CS people. However, CS folks can relate to the things mentioned in the book even better as they have background knowledge about it!

All the chapters are well researched and presented in a way that it almost feels like reading a story. With real-life incidents, day to day examples and quotes it makes an awesome read! It is one of those books which one can randomly reread. Some of the lines have philosophical undertones and on reading it especially in connection to the topic being discussed, the mind just goes WOW!

Some of the everyday things that can be tackled by algorithms as presented in this book are finding the perfect house for rent, finding a life partner, why not to consume too much news as it disturbs our priors, how our tastebuds have overfitted over the years, how evolutionarily speaking our brains are at an optimum state, links between networks and effective communication, alternate email auto-replies, group interactions and its complexities and many more!

Some of my favorite lines from the book are:
* Outcomes make news headlines but processes are what we have control over…We can hope to be fortunate, but we should strive to be wise.
* If changing strategies doesn’t help, you can try to change the game. And if that’s not possible, you can at least exercise some control about which games you choose to play. The road to hell is paved with intractable recursions, bad equilibria, and information cascades. Seek out games where honesty is the dominant strategy. Then just be yourself.
* It turns out there is no Godfather quite like God the father.
* James Branch Cabell – “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
* Communication is one of those delightful things that work only in practice; in theory it’s impossible.
* Our judgments betray our expectations, and our expectations betray our experience. What we project about the future reveals a lot – about the world we live in, and about our own past.

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