I recently finished the book “Algorithms to Live By” and found the topic fascinating. The basic premise of the book is that mathematics and computers have solved a number of different problems which, when considered within the context of our lives, can provide significant benefit in decision making and scheduling. I found the topic engaging and feel like I need something of a cheat sheet to take around with me as I navigate life.
The idea is that with this cheat sheet I may be able to apply some of the algorithms to everyday problems, such as how long to drive around a parking lot for a parking space before giving up and moving to another parking lot. Some of the simple, everyday problems we deal with could be helped by just using these formulas.
Another idea I picked up from the book dashed one of my preconceived notions: self-driving cars will make things faster. Apparently we humans are already doing a pretty good job of dealing with the congestion when driving on our own. About the only thing a self-driving car will do to help us is reducing the amount of time we will need to focus on the actual driving and maybe make it a little safer. Other than that, we are still going to have to deal with the congestion just because a number of people who are on the road. Self-driving cars are not going to fix that, no matter what we do.
Overall, I found the book fascinating and worth the time spent and even worth a second look and some more in-depth not taking just for the possibility of help it could provide with improving parts of my own life. If you ever get a chance, check it out.
The image is “Control is an Option to Command” by Frederico Cintra. You can find it on flickr.