Penn State

Bhuvan Urgaonkar - associate professor of computer science and engineering, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

Author: Jared M. Diamond

Book Description:

Although not even remotely related to computer science, Guns, Germs, and Steel has been an absolute favorite of mine since the first time I read it. It is — at its core — an exercise in presenting and evaluating models to explain a highly intriguing aspect of human history: why did certain societies (those in Europe and Asia) thrive, while others (Americas, Australia, and sub-Saharan Africa) did not? According to Professor Jared Diamond, this had to do with geography and timing more than the superiority of one race over another. For someone who must understand complicated computer systems and employ creative techniques to model their behavior in both his research and teaching, this book is highly inspirational. Good models balance simplicity and accuracy. Furthermore, they do not hesitate to cast away old ideas and approaches that do not work. Diamond's models do all of this. To top it all off, Diamond's writing makes this work on anthropology approachable even to non-experts.


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