Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
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(Joe Buhlig) #1

This is a book that @shouit recommended to me. He’s certain I’ll like it since I have a bent towards math. :wink:

https://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Live-Computer-Science-Decisions/dp/1627790365/ref=mt_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&me=


(Josh Rensch) #2

In the words of the famous wrestler…

BofgNqX


(Joe Buhlig) #3

Looks like this is is our choice for November. I’ll create the new #books:club topic shortly. :wink:


(Joe Buhlig) #4

(Joe Buhlig) #5

Here’s our book club choice for October 2017!

https://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Live-Computer-Science-Decisions/dp/1627790365/ref=mt_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&me=

If you’re new to the Pro Guild, be sure to check out how the book club works.

Questions about the book:

  1. What were your expectations of the book and were those met?

  2. Did you have any action items develop from reading this book?

  3. Were there any quotes that stood out to you?

  4. Would you recommend this to a friend?


(Joe Buhlig) #6

1. What were your expectations of the book and were those met?

I was expecting an application of computer algorithms to how we make decisions with everything from choosing a house to buy all the way down to picking an app for a task. And although I think that was covered, it was a lot more math than I was ready for. I think the first handful of chapters met my expectations but it got harder and harder to connect as the book went on. It eventually felt like a crash course in computer science.

2. Did you have any action items develop from reading this book?

I did! The concept of sorting by last used as opposed to sorting by title or file type really resonated with me. I’m slowly converting all of my apps to use “last modified” as a sort. The two big ones I’ve done this with are Bear and Ulysses. It’s been surprisingly helpful.

3. Were there any quotes that stood out to you?

Nothing that I wrote down. Which is odd because I felt like there were a lot of things I liked.

4. Would you recommend this to a friend?

Only to math people. The audience I would share this with would be very limited.


(Josh Rensch) #7

What were your expectations of the book and were those met?
I am trying to not have expectations going into books much anymore cause too many of them surprise me. But I did get stuff out of the book from the sorting thing and the selection process.

Did you have any action items develop from reading this book?
Like @joebuhlig, I liked the last modified as a sort. Unlike, Joe I’ve been doing that for a while with Evernote and such so it just confirmed my recall of my computer science courses.

Were there any quotes that stood out to you?
I liked the concept of how long to search/interview/etc before selecting something. I thought that was a cool chapter.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
I did and his name is Joe Buhlig. I don’t know if he liked it though. It is heavier math than most books that I or a lot of people on this forum read.


(Wilson Ng) #8

Whew, after a whirlwind Holiday Shopping Season at the storefront, I’ve been able to get back to writing up my thoughts on this book.

What were your expectations of the book and were those met?

I expected something that was heavy on math and mathematical concepts. I think those were met. It was something that I skimmed through and tried to get to the meat of things. I’m not mathematically inclined and just wanted the end results. I knew if I looked hard enough, I’ll hit paydirt.

Did you have any action items develop from reading this book?

Getting a better handle of decision making and when to stop analyzing and just start dong. There’s the notion of paralysis by analysis that sometimes freezes me. I’ll have a project and endlessly tweak it. I won’t finish it but will relentlessly stay in planning mode. The Monte Carlo casino scenario was interesting and informed me to get enough of a large sample before making a decision. Otherwise, I’d be in an endless loop to nowhere.

There is another quote that I liked and planning to utilize this strategy a bit more.

Minimizing the sum of completion times leads to a very simple optimal algorithm called Shortest Processing Time: always do the quickest task you.

I have an OmniFocus custom perspective called “Quickies” where I search for any available tasks and it is sorted out by estimated duration. If I have a lot of tasks, I might devote a half hour to just knocking off a bunch of quickies to shorten my task list. It’s the easiest way to cross off as many tasks as possible.

Computer science can offer us optimal algorithms for various metrics available in single-machine scheduling, but choosing the metric we want to follow is up to us. In many cases, we get to decide what problem we want to be solving.

A lot of users in the OmniFocus forums at the Omnigroup web site talk about having a today list that tells them what to do and what should be done. I’m stepping away from using the Today perspective (showing due and flagged tasks as the highest priority) and leaning more towards a more flexible time management approach to completing tasks. I’ll have more about this in another post that I’m still wrapping my head around.

Were there any quotes that stood out to you?

Feel like you can’t proceed until you have a bulletproof plan? Replace ‘plan’ with ‘guess’ and take it easy.

Again, this is the trap of overplanning and never getting the car out of the garage. It’s time to stop tinkering and let the rubber hit road.

Would you recommend this to a friend?

For my less-mathematically inclined friends, I’d suggest they skim over the heavy algorithm parts and try to find the nuggets of gold that are spread throughout the book. For my computer science friends, I’d say it’s a great read.


(Joe Buhlig) #9

I had used my Dashboard for a long time in OmniFocus but abandoned it a few months before moving to paper. I’ve slowly realized that David Allen is correct when he talks about working direct from a context list. If you do that and don’t go any further, it gives you the freedom to flex and plan each day individually.


(Joe Buhlig) #10