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The Art of Insight in Science and Engineering: Mastering Complexity (2014) [pdf] (ocw.mit.edu)
274 points by kercker on Sept 9, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments



I took a version of this class (called The Art of Approximation) with Dr. Mahajan when he was a visiting professor at Olin College. The course helped me become fearless about tackling a broad range of math problems I knew little about, and has helped me in countless real life situations from financial planning to major work decisions.

Also, it's a great intro on good ways to nail PM interviews, at least at Google (where I now work, thanks in no small part to the lessons from this class).

If you have a spare few hours, read this book or take his classes on edX. It'll absolutely change your intuition for numbers.


Oh cool. I'm actually in Olin now, and even better, taking his class as I type this post.

Art of approximation https://imgur.com/a/OvDzl

I'll pass along any cool questions.


Thank you for sharing the first hand experience. When I see book pdfs posted here, my first question is "Did anyone actually read or go through this?"

Is it really just a few hours to go through it? :-)


> it's a great intro on good ways to nail PM interviews, at least at Google (where I now work, thanks in no small part to the lessons from this class).

Could you give an example? It would be great to know why you say so.


If you don't mind me asking, any other resources you found useful for PM interviews?


What class is that? Is any similar MOOC course available?


An earlier book from the same author: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/street-fighting-mathematics


In fact he has a course on edx for this: https://www.edx.org/course/street-fighting-math-mitx-6-sfmx


Thank you very much for posting this.


I went to graduate school at Caltech; my time there intersected with SM for about a year, but I only learned about that when he had already graduated.

In one of the rooms in the physics building (E. Bridge), there used to be a few shelves with old theses. While checking them out one day (probably trying to kill time before a seminar), I came across Sanjoy's thesis. It was a curious little thing, unlike any of the other theses I had seen---a bit of a hybrid between a PhD thesis and a textbook, and remarkably, very readable.

That thesis was, apparently, the first version of his now famous book, Street-Fighting Mathematics. After getting lost in it for a while, I went and asked the administrative assistant if I could get a copy, and she said nobody cares about those volumes on the shelves, and I could just take it if I wanted. I still have that copy with me.

One year I attempted to audit the (somewhat legendary) class that the book part of SM's thesis was based on---"Order of magnitude physics", taught by P. Goldreich and S. Phinney. Unfortunately, the lectures were in the morning, and I managed to wake up early enough only a few times, and dropped out afterwards.

I continued to collect material on related topics over the years, and am still hoping to use them some day in a course, together with SM's books.


After a bit of Googling, I believe I have found a copy of this thesis [0].

[0] http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sanjoy/thesis/thesis-lett...


What a great find! I didn't even dream of a book like this. Thank you for sharing!


How come this book is available on download I mean what about copyright?


It's under a license that allows freely sharing it for non-commercial purposes.


I've wondered about this: when it says non-commercial purposes, does that mean me downloading a copy to read for my work, or me printing and selling?

I haven't any problem buying it, since it's useful for my job, but that distinction has been a bit fuzzy to me (and I'll normally just err on the side of buy, just to be safe).


Commercial would mean you make a gain from distribution of the book. Money can be one of the gains.


Thanks - distribution vs consumption always mix me up with the copyright rules.


On the copyright page of the PDF of the book it states it is:

>> "licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution–Noncommercial–ShareAlike 4.0 International License."


What are the prerequisites to understand this book? I feel very intimidated by some equations.


Comfort with freshman physics and math is really all that's required.

You can always review those first.


The irony of a an article claiming to master complexity while using one of the worst choices of information dissemination. PDF's. Palpable.


Besides it being a book, not sure what the irony is here. PDF is a poor way to disseminate information via the web, but excellent for distributing information in a container that you envision as uniform and universal -- in this case, paper. The responsive variable nature of a browser window can sometimes do screwy things to a well planned layout.


Because it's a book, not an article.




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