Things I learnt from this book as a non- Algorithm writer:

Technical concepts:

  1. I took this opportunity to revise probability with The Secretary Problem. Learnt the concept of Optimal stopping, i.e., the point where you decide to choose from given options instead of taking in new options. Eg. While hiring a secretary do you finalise after interviewing first 10 or do you interview 10 more?
  2. Sorting: I learn that computers can sort items in 3 ways. Then learnt about it in detailed course video.

Personal lessons:

Exponential Backoff: If there’s a friend/relative you wish to invite for dinner but they don’t show up. What to do? If giving up entirely on the relationship isn’t the answer but persisting is naïve, then the solution is Exponential Backoff on the invitation rate. Try to reschedule in a week, then two, then four, then eight— yet you never have to completely give up!

Computational Kindness: It’s a principle of behaviour/design, where one of the chief goals of design ought to be protecting people from unnecessary tension, friction, and mental labour. While seemingly innocuously one might reply “Oh, I’m flexible” or “Whatever suits you, I am good with it” when asked for their opinion. This open-ended reply that puts all responsibility on the other person to make all the decisions and do that hard work has a dark computational underbelly that should make you think twice. While One might reply open-endedly to be polite, it ironically is anything but polite.

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