Algorithms to Live By

by Brian Christian

Review Type

The Gist


  1. We can take so many lessons from Computer Science as inspiration to solve problems in our daily lives.

  2. Queuing and knowing when it’s a good time to stop are essential lessons that we can take.

  3. It’s good to be “computationally kind”. This means knowing how to communicate effectively such that it’s always easier for the other party.


How I Discovered It

When I was at Stanford I always saw my peers reading this book. This is because so many of my friends were studying Computer Science. So I thought it’s a wonderful way to learn from others and understand more about this growing field.

How the Book Changed Me


Who Should Read It?

I’d recommend this book to anyone, but especially young college freshman. They can use the lessons in networking with their friends, during club meetings, and even choices they make in their personal lives. Hopefully, this book can teach others to be kinder, more compassionate, and more confident in their encounters.



In my own personal life, I’ve encountered a problem that was mentioned in this book. The optimal stopping problem talks about when it’s a good time to stop searching for a partner. Reflecting on this lesson, I think it’s important to be confident when one has made a decision on a partner and take ownership over the choice. When we stop, it’s important to then consider next steps and how we can work with the choice we have made. Lingering too much on a decision can lead to unattractive second thoughts and cold feet. This book taught me to learn from my decisions and commit to a choice I am responsible for.

I also learned how to be kinder through this book. When I schedule meetings now, I am always the one to suggest a specific date and time. This helps everyone, as it diminishes ambiguity and helps the entire team to be on track. After reading this book, I also was inspired to purchase a Calendly subscription to help me schedule meetings with others, especially for work purposes.

Reflecting on this book, I also learned so much about packets and how we send information across systems. I learned that it’s vital to send read receipts, as that’s how others can confirm that we received their message. I’m a bit hesitant to send read receipts for privacy reasons, but I may start to warm up to this idea. Overall, this book taught me so much and I’m happy to recommend it to others moving forward.

Computer Science