● “When I want to buy a house, how many houses should I see before signing a contract?”
● “Is it best to marry this person?” Wouldn’t a better person be waiting for me somewhere?”
● “Where can I park my car?” Somewhere close to the destination or somewhere far away?”
● “When should I sell S Electronics shares that are raising their stock prices and make the most profit without losing money?””
What if computer science algorithms could serve as a clue to solving small and diverse problems that arise in everyday life? Algorithms developed for computers can also help us solve problems we encounter. “Algoriths to Live by” written by Brian Christians and Tom Griffiths kindly tells us 11 algorithms that help solve almost every problem in life.
“Algolism never regrets!”
: From finding a partner for life to finding a vacant parking lot,
the power of computer science to easily calculate complex life
We live with limited time and space. And there are a lot of problems that arise from it. What should we do and what should we not do? How much can I tolerate the looseness and disarray of my space? How can we balance the new (person) and the existing familiar (person) to live the most satisfying life?
These problems may seem human-only, but they are not. Computers are bound by the same constraints. How should the processor allocate “intention” to perform all the tasks required by users with minimal time and money? How should we switch between tasks and how many tasks should we take on in the first place? What is the best way to utilize limited memory resources? Should I collect more data or act based on the data I already have?
Brian Christian, a promising best-selling author, computer engineer, and philosopher on technology, and Tom Griffith, a professor of cognitive psychology at UC Berkeley, replace our choice with a new thinking structure that is completely different from the existing problem-solving structure. Computer science’s algorithmic structure, which considers computational conflict problems, optimal selection, concentration, resource allocation, and timing, helps us make optimal choices and come up with appropriate answers to solve problems in various environments. The authors say, “Algolism never regrets,” and recommend trusting the power of computer science. Saying that the algorithms of computer science will solve the problems accumulated in our complex lives at once.
“In a world made of 0 and 1, we need algorithms rather than psychotherapists”.
: From designing algorithms for computers to utilizing algorithms for people
When we spend our daily lives, everyone who is full of worries around us – tenants who have to find the best house at their own expense, drivers looking for parking lots, suitors who are searching for lifelong mates – is all trying to make the best choice within a given time. As a result, they are stressed out and show abnormal behavior. Psychotherapists encourage them to stop being impulsive and not think too much, and comfort them with ambiguous words to find an appropriate and comfortable balance of mind. However, algorithms say firmly. That balance is 37 percent. What we need every day at the crossroads of choice is not a psychotherapist, but an algorithm. Is it really possible to apply algorithms to human life?
Today’s computers go beyond simple arithmetic and challenge themselves to communicate with people, fix damaged files, or win Go with people. These tasks are problems where the rules are not clear, some of the information needed is missing, or astronomical numbers of possibilities must be searched to find the right answer. And with the use of algorithms developed by researchers to solve the most difficult categories of problems, computers have gradually moved away from relying heavily on thorough calculations. It has developed to deal with real-world tasks that have to be solved by accepting coincidences and sacrificing accuracy, but instead shortening time and using approximations, which can be applied to human life today. So how can algorithms solve our problems?
“The age of philosophy is over!” Another wisdom to live in the digital world!”
: Algorithm Instructions for Making the Fastest and Most Reasonable Choice
This book proposes the concept of algorithm design and teaches you how to solve complex problems most quickly and make rational choices. The 11 algorithms of computer science introduced in the book are as follows.
· Optimum stop: The passage of time turns all decision-making problems into optimal stop problems. No choice can be made again. That’s when “optimal stopping” is needed. The optimal pause tells us when we look and when we jump in.
· Exploration/Use: When you are sensitively aware of how much time you have left, you need to ‘explore/use’. Exploration/use also tells us why we should take advice from the elderly. This is because it is jewel-like information collected through decades of exploration.
· Sort: Sort tells you how to organize your office, how to match your socks, and how to plug in your library books. Any problem is solved by changing the criteria to a computational problem that expands the alignment.
· Caching: Caching plays an important role in the memory structure of computers and presents a new perspective on all kinds of storage systems and memory banks in human life. The older you get, the more time it will take you to think of something. Don’t worry, the length of time delay is also an indicator of how much experience you’ve had.
· Schedule plan: A schedule plan is essential to increase productivity and live a leisurely life. Through various algorithms that allocate time, we can balance work and life.
· Bays Rule: The ‘Bays Rule’ is to guess the possibility of facts to be known based on an event when it occurs. We can conduct indirect research on the world by writing the Bayes rules to find out what people expect.
· Overfitting: The simplest may be the best plan. When our expectations are uncertain and the data is noisy, the best way is to think broadly. If you are in such an ‘overfitting’ state, you should think less.
· Mitigation: No matter how advanced the technology is, there are types of problems that cannot reach essentially perfect solutions. The best way to approach problems that cannot reach an optimal solution is ‘relaxation’. Through relaxation, we can actually compromise with reality and spend countless years pursuing perfection.
· Randomness: Random algorithms can sometimes come up with a good approximation to a difficult problem faster than all deterministic algorithms. The same goes for life. Sometimes, rather than trying to deduce thoroughly and get an answer, simply leaving it to chance may be the best answer to a problem.
· Networking: How do I know if messages are being delivered? When the networking buffer is full, virtually all packets are dropped by simply rejecting them. The same goes for our lives. Don’t make someone wait long. Line up as long as you can wait. If you don’t think you can wait, refuse. But nothing will change.
· Game Theory: Every game has a rival. We have to make decisions in a situation where we have to decide on our optimal behavior in consideration of our competitors’ reactions. The game theory of computer science speaks. “If changing your strategy does not help, try to change the game itself.” Above all, it is best to find a game where honesty comes first.
Life is full of difficult problems. And mistakes people make often tell us more about the difficult aspects of the problem than the possibility of errors in the human brain. Now, the era of solving these problems with philosophy is coming to an end. The world is driven by algorithms. If we look at the world from an algorithmic perspective and find out the underlying structure of the problem we face and the nature of the solution, we will be able to see how well we are actually solving the problem and better understand what errors we make.
Through algorithms, the book explains how we can improve our intuition, when we have to leave things to chance, how to deal with situations where we have too many choices, and what is a good way to relate to others. From finding a lifelong companion to finding a parking space, let’s transform the wisdom gained from computer science into a strategy to live a life, from how to organize emails to understand how memories work. The enlightenment gained through computer science algorithms will change our daily lives and help us understand not only other people’s minds but also our own.