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fortyeridania comments on Heuristics for textbook selection - Less Wrong Discussion

8 Post author: John_Maxwell_IV 06 September 2017 04:17AM

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Comment author: fortyeridania 06 September 2017 06:53:52AM *  0 points [-]

In addition to what you've cited, here are some methods I've used and liked:

  1. Email professors to ask for recommendations. Be polite, concise, and specific (e.g., why exactly do you want to learn more about x?).

  2. David Frum says he used to pick a random book on his chosen topic, check which books kept showing up in the footnotes, then repeat with those books. A couple rounds yielded a good picture of who the recognized authorities were. (I pointed this out in a Rationality Quotes thread in 2015. Link: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lzn/rationality_quotes_thread_april_2015/c7qp.) Cons: This is time-consuming, sometimes requires physical access to many books you don't yet own, and tends to omit recent books.

Comment author: AABoyles 06 September 2017 06:42:29PM 1 point [-]

1a. If a professor is a suitable source for a recommendation, they've probably taught a course on the topic, and that course's syllabus may be available on the open web without emailing the professor.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 06 September 2017 01:33:25PM *  1 point [-]


This is literally doing PageRank, by hand, on books. There's got to be a better way

Comment author: fortyeridania 08 September 2017 08:29:33AM *  0 points [-]

True. I think Frum did this in law school, which he finished in 1987.

Comment author: CurtisSerVaas 06 September 2017 04:23:14PM 0 points [-]

This might take a few hours, but selecting a good book might save you significantly more time.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 06 September 2017 05:01:23PM 0 points [-]

I agree it might be locally optimal, globally very suboptimal

Comment author: Lumifer 07 September 2017 12:01:07AM 0 points [-]

I don't think a global optimum exists. People are different their optimums are different as well.

Comment author: Dr_Manhattan 07 September 2017 06:34:16PM 1 point [-]

Sorry did not quite mean that. Meant it would be nice for everyone if there was a service to do this :)