Yes- we started a STP bioinformatics book club! Our lovely colleague Chris suggested the idea as a way to encourage us to read books around related topics that won’t be directly covered in our teaching.
Our first book is “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. We are planning on discussing it when we meet in Manchester in November, which gives us plenty of time, and we would love it if you want to read it too and tweet us your opinions!
Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I am awful at reading non-fiction books. I need a juicy storyline to keep me hooked and this is exactly what non-fiction books tend to lack, reeling off facts and information with little imagination to keep my attention. But I’m hoping this is just because I’ve been reading badly written non-fiction.
The first glimmer of hope I have is that Brian Christian is actually an acclaimed author. Nothing against scientists, but we don’t tend to write in the most engaging way for a general audience. So I was hoping that having an author on board would make the book more “readable”. Well I’m one chapter in and I’ve got to say, I’m not ready to put it down just yet. It seems to be a very light introduction to the concepts of computational algorithms- not heavy on the maths or even the application of the algorithms in computer science. It introduces the algorithms and explains them using situations that everyone has experienced- from dating to finding a parking space to choosing a restaurant to eat at.
I won’t go into too much detail just yet, but first impressions are that it’s easy to read, while still offering a decent introduction to concepts behind some of the most common computational algorithms.