Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How to Solve It: Modern Heuristics

Author: Zbigniew Michalewicz and David B. Fogel

The book offers a nice combination of puzzles and smart procedures to solve complex optimization problems (Traveling salesman and others). Here is one of the puzzles that I like the best:

Mr. Smith and his wife invited four other couples for a party. When everyone arrived, some of the people in the room shook hands with some of the others. Of course, nobody shook hands with their spouse and nobody shook hands with the same person twice.

After that, Mr. Smith asked everyone how many times they shook someone’s hand. He received different answers from everybody.

How many times did Mrs. Smith shakes someone’s hand?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Book Recommendation: The Wisdom of Crowds

Author: James Surowiecki
The basic idea of this book is that groups of people often make better decisions than individuals, even if these individuals are experts. Surowiecki makes his argument with a number of different examples, from democracy to the stock market. He also explains the instances where group decision-making processes go wrong, and what can be done to ameliorate them.