March 5, 2019
7:30 pm
Woods Lecture Series

Woods Lecture Series: Tom Griffiths

Algorithms to Live By

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their versions of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us. In this talk, I will discuss three problems that arise in the lives of both humans and computers — the explore/exploit tradeoff, caching, and predicting the future. Looking at the ways that computers solve these problems offers insights relevant to our day-to-day lives, and a different way of thinking about how we should make decisions, use our memories, and structure our environments.

Tom Griffiths is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Information Technology, Consciousness, and Culture at Princeton University. His research explores connections between human and machine learning, using ideas from statistics and artificial intelligence to understand how people solve the challenging computational problems they encounter in everyday life. In 2016, Tom and his friend and collaborator Brian Christian published "Algorithms to live by", introducing ideas from computer science and cognitive science to a general audience and illustrating how they can be applied to human decision-making. The book was named as one of the Amazon.com“Best Science Books of 2016,” the Forbes “Must-read brain books of 2016,” and the MIT Technology Review “Best books of 2016.”

This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.