Algorithms to Live By "The Computer Science of Human Decisions" by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths explores the intersection of computer science and daily decision-making, offering insights into how algorithms can inform and improve our lives. Here are the key ideas from the book:
Algorithmic Thinking
The book introduces the concept of algorithmic thinking, which involves applying principles from computer science to solve real-life problems and make better decisions.
Explore vs. Exploit
One of the central ideas is the explore-exploit trade-off, a fundamental concept in decision-making. The book discusses how to strike a balance between exploring new options and exploiting the best-known ones, drawing parallels with computer algorithms used in various contexts.
Optimal Stopping
The authors explore the concept of "optimal stopping" or the secretary problem, which involves determining the best time to make a decision when you have limited information and a fixed number of choices. This idea can be applied to dating, job searching, and other situations.
The book discusses sorting algorithms and how they relate to organizing and prioritizing tasks and information in everyday life.
Caching is a computer science concept that deals with storing and retrieving information efficiently. The book applies this idea to memory and decision-making, emphasizing the value of storing important information for quick access.
Scheduling and Multitasking
The book explores scheduling algorithms and the challenges of multitasking, providing insights into how to manage time and prioritize tasks effectively.
Prediction and Randomness
The authors discuss the role of prediction in decision-making and how probabilistic algorithms can help us make informed choices in uncertain situations.
Overcoming Biases
"Algorithms to Live By" suggests that algorithms can help us overcome cognitive biases by providing structured and objective approaches to decision-making.
Serendipity and Exploration
The book explores the idea that sometimes, taking a random or exploratory approach to decision-making can lead to unexpected and valuable discoveries.
Networks and Connectivity
The authors discuss network theory and how it can be applied to social connections, job opportunities, and other aspects of life.
Game Theory
The book introduces game theory concepts, such as the prisoner's dilemma, to analyze strategic decision-making in various situations, including negotiations and cooperation.
Auctions and Bargaining
The authors apply auction theory to real-life scenarios, such as buying a house or negotiating a salary, to help readers make better decisions in competitive situations.
Trade-Offs and Compromises
The book emphasizes that many real-world decisions involve trade-offs, and algorithms can provide insights into finding optimal compromises.

"Algorithms to Live By" offers a unique perspective on decision-making by drawing on principles from computer science. It encourages readers to think algorithmically and apply these concepts to their daily lives, ultimately leading to more informed and efficient decision-making processes. The book combines practical advice with engaging explanations of complex computer science concepts, making it accessible and insightful for a wide range of readers.