Algorithms to Live by

Algorithms to Live by

The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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 favourites 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 (who holds degrees in computer science, philosophy, and poetry, and works at the intersection of all three) and Tom Griffiths (a UC Berkeley professor of cognitive science and psychology) 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.

Publisher: Toronto, Ontario :, Allen Lane,, 2016
ISBN: 9780670068319
Branch Call Number: 153.43 Chr
Characteristics: x, 351 pages : illustrations
Additional Contributors: Griffiths, Tom 1978-


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 29, 2019

In this book the authors explain famous algorithms in real world context.

My notes from this book -

(1) Optimal Stopping
(2) Old people don't lose memory - they have so much of it that it slows their system.
(3) Procrastination can be seen as an efficient scheduling problem with wrong priority.
(4) Predictive Models - Gaussian, Power Law, Erlang
(5) Over-fitting - "It really is true that a company will build whatever the CEO decides to measure".
(6) Penalize complexity - Occam's Razor Principle
(7) "A bit of conservative, a certain bias in favor of history, can buffer us against the boom and bust cycle of fads"

(8)Over-fitting Examples - Military Training, taste buds
(9) Early Stopping - Appropriate for Uncertainty
(10) "The prefect is the enemy of the good."
(11) Continuous Relaxation for discrete optimization.
(12) Lagrangian Relaxation - "You don't HAVE to obey the law. There are consequences to everything and you get to decide whether you want to face those.

(13) Random Sampling - Miller Rabin Primality Test
(14) Charity - GiveDirectly uses random samples of review
(15) Bloom filters for search engine crawls.
(16) Simulated Annealing - Random restart hill climbing.
(17) Randomness - heart of creativity?
(18) Networking - Circuit Switching -> Packet Switching
(19) Exponential backoff
(20) AIMD - Additive Increase Multiplicative Decrease, TCP's Sawtooth
(21) Game Theory - Price of Anarchy. Selfish routing only has 4/3 as it's price of Anarchy that's how internet is working fine (infact 33% close to optimal).

(22) Price of Anarchy is very high in case of Prisoner's Dilemma.
(23) Tragedy of Commons - Pollution, Climate Change, Number of Vacations employees use etc.,
(24) Game Theory - Information Cascade.
(25) Vickrey Auction

I recommend this book to all!

Nov 10, 2017

Algorythms to Live By, was like learning to make life decisions according to calculated odds as per sociologists. Life decisions are more than actuarial works. Didn't care for the mathematical formula of life. Logic is fine. But life is also about reasoning & Intuition with a capital I. Odds should be only for bookies, actuaries & assorted risk takers & gamblers.

Apr 18, 2017

I installed the cloud library application on my computer(windows 10), I can sign in and see the books which I borrowed. But it crashed when I tried to open it. so, no comment for this book.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at SLS.

Try searching for Algorithms to Live by to see if SLS owns related versions of the work.

Suggest For Purchase

To Top