This month’s book is “Algorithms to live by”, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths.

I dread reading my postal mail. Bills here, adverts there, and worst of all: forms to fill out. It feels like such a waste of time! Which is why I sometimes let letters stay in my inbox for several months. Reading “Algorithms to live by” changed that.

Of course, I still have to deal with my mail, but by scheduling one particular date every month to do it all at once at least minimizes the impact and duration of this distraction. And knowing that I have put thought into optimizing this helps, somehow.

Christian and Griffiths manage to distill the essence of well-known computer science problems into a form that could be helpful with anyone’s daily decision making.

Even with a background in computer science and mathematics, “Algorithms to live by” is a delight to read. Making the connections between thrashing of a CPU and thrashing of my personal agenda is just fun to think about.

All in all, I recommend you read this book if:

  • you have time management problems, or
  • you want to know how computer science can solve problems for you – even if you don’t have a computer, or
  • you are planning to setup or improve any kind of system (e.g. a book shelf, a dresser, a research group, etc.), or
  • you just want to read a good book.