Algorithms to Live by - ch4

Chapter 4: Caching#

I was going to try to go over the talking points of the chapter, but I feel like I hardly got anything out of it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a computer programmer long enough to know how caching works? I really can’t think of any way to apply this to my daily life.

As for what goes in the closet, basement, and storage…​ Isn’t that obvious? And using caching to decide what to keep doesn’t make sense. The rule I use is if I haven’t used it in 1-2 years, and I have no plans to use it, I get rid of it. More minimalism than caching. The minimum is 1 year because a lot of things are seasonal.

I only liked two bits in the whole chapter. The first bit is Noguchi’s Super Organized Method, where he puts files on the left side, and he searches the left first for files. It’s like LRU cache ordering. I hadn’t actually considered that before. I guess it might work? Not for taxes, though. I guess you just need to put tax forms into their own folder. Seems it would be better to have a few category folders.

The second bit talks about how it’s harder to recall things as we get older, but it may be because we have more things to search through rather than memory fault. That makes me feel better about forgetting actors' names and the order of parameters in the Go standard library (why does it feel like everything’s backwards?). On the other hand, I guess it puts me at a disadvantage for knowing so many programming languages - QBasic, x86 assembly, Z80 assembly, C, C++, Perl, Python, Javascript, Visual Basic, Go, SQL, HTML, CSS, befunge…​ I’m probably forgetting a few, but I have a hard time remembering more than 12 of them. In general, I only get the similar programming languages confused. So that’s C with Go, and Python with Javascript. I haven’t fully learned C#, Java, ELisp, or Rust, yet, but perhaps I should be more selective in future learning. Yeah, I probably stuff too many things in my brain. It seemed like a good idea at the time! That’s what they teach you to do in school, anyway. "Here, put all this trivia in your brain, because it’ll be useful someday." Christopher Columbus knew the earth was round; he just miscalculated the circumference.

Back to the book. I feel like the best chapter so far was the first one: optimal stopping. And I feel like each chapter after that has gotten progressively less useful and less interesting. I really wanted to like caching, but either I completely missed the point, or it’s a bit dry.

Maybe the authors put the best chapter first so it would be in the free chapter that Amazon gives you to evaluate a book. That would be clever. Or I just already have better solutions for the other problems listed.

Here’s what I want to know: Having a limited amount of time and energy, how can I organize my day/week/month to get the most out of it without overworking myself and burning out? Oh look, the next chapter is about scheduling…​

If I expect to be disappointed, then maybe I can be pleasantly surprised? Oh, wait, just thinking that would be raising my expectations. Time to start reading.