Bad Choices: How Algorithms Can Help You Think Smarter and Live Happier (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Algorithms sound scary, I know. The word conjures images of chalkboards, room-sized computers, and people talking over each other in hopeless jargon. But if you’ve ever prioritized tasks at work, set out to do errands, or put your socks away, then you’ve already created and followed simple algorithms. In Bad Choices, Ali Almossawi explores how thinking about algorithms can make life easier for everyone. With straightforward explanations and real-world examples, this book gives us laypeople access to insights from a field that can seem impenetrably complex—and it entertains along the way. -Justin

— From Spring Booknotes 2017


A relatable, interactive, and funny exploration of algorithms, those essential building blocks of computer science--and of everyday life--from the author of the wildly popular Bad Arguments

Algorithms--processes that are made up of unambiguous steps and do something useful--make up the very foundations of computer science. But they also inform our choices in approaching everyday tasks, from managing a pile of clothes fresh out of the dryer to deciding what music to listen to.

With Bad Choices, Ali Almossawi presents twelve scenes from everyday life that help demonstrate and demystify the fundamental algorithms that drive computer science, bringing these seemingly elusive concepts into the understandable realms of the everyday.

Readers will discover how:
- Matching socks can teach you about search and hash tables
- Planning trips to the store can demonstrate the value of stacks
- Deciding what music to listen to shows why link analysis is all-important
- Crafting a succinct Tweet draws on ideas from compression
- Making your way through a grocery list helps explain priority queues and traversing graphs
- And more

As you better understand algorithms, you'll also discover what makes a method faster and more efficient, helping you become a more nimble, creative problem-solver, ready to face new challenges. Bad Choices will open the world of algorithms to all readers, making this a perennial go-to for fans of quirky, accessible science books.

About the Author

Ali Almossawi is the creator and maintainer of An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, which has been read by 2.4 million readers and translated into 17 languages, 11 of which were done by volunteers from across the world. Almossawi formerly worked on the Firefox team at Mozilla and is an alumnus of MIT's System Design and Management program and Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. Previous stints included working as a research associate at Harvard and as a collaborator with the MIT Media Lab.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780735222120
ISBN-10: 0735222126
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Pages: 160
Language: English