Best Explainers on Different Subjects

post by JMiller · 2015-03-18T20:32:55.958Z · score: 16 (17 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 24 comments

There are many recommended reading threads on lesswrong. Some examples include: MathTextbooks and Rationality.

I am looking to compile another such thread, this time aimed at "exceptional explainers" and their works. For example, I find Richard Feynman's QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter to be one such book.

Please list out other authors and books which you think are wonderfully written, in such a way that maximizes communication and explanation to laypeople in the given field. For example:

Physics: Richard Feynman - QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter.

Thank you,





Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by lukeprog · 2015-03-18T23:37:39.168Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I tried this earlier, with Great Explanations.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-19T06:56:47.570Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And you should also have mentioned Best Textbooks on every Subject.

comment by JMiller · 2015-03-19T17:11:28.511Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks Gunnar. Luke may not have linked his thread, because I did so in the OP.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-20T04:44:44.436Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh yeah, the old problem of the visibilty of single-word links.

comment by JMiller · 2015-03-19T17:10:51.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, Luke. I'll be checking your physics recommendations out soon.

comment by D_Malik · 2015-03-18T23:18:00.400Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW
comment by JMiller · 2015-03-19T17:12:26.813Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I appreciate the initiative to send meta-sources rather than single pieces.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-19T06:54:03.287Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Geometrical Vectors builds a visual intuition and vocabulary for dealing with vector analysis. It is a non-standard approach but very useful for visually oriented people,

comment by JohnBuridan · 2015-03-19T06:11:24.244Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Peter Briscoe's Reading the Map of Knowledge is a helpful short monograph on helping you optimize your learning and research into different fields. It is meant for librarians and lay people alike.

comment by interstice · 2015-03-21T01:37:28.026Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Another one on computing: The Elements of Computing Systems. This book explains how computers work by teaching you to build a computer from scratch, staring with logic gates. By the end you have a working (emulation of) a computer, every component of which you built. It's great if you already know how to program and want to learn how computers work at a lower level.

comment by HungryHobo · 2015-03-19T10:37:34.861Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For an exceedingly well written intro to crypto I'd recommend The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking by Simon Singh

When I got around to a final year security comp sci module it turned out that most of the information had been covered in The code book.

comment by JMiller · 2015-03-19T17:14:42.052Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Awesome, I'll be checking this out for sure. I recently began studying computer security; do you have any more recommendations?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-19T17:17:48.789Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bruce Schneier's Applied Cryptography is a classic and his other books are also recommended.

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2015-03-19T03:33:23.221Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Mainstream and Formal epistemology" - Hendricks is an incredible book and should be read by most.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-19T03:01:02.531Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I always recommend Flatland to anyone interested in visualizing extra dimensions.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-20T11:24:03.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Harry Lindgren's Recreational problems in geometric dissections and how to solve them is good for visualizing flat transformations and doesn't require much previous knowledge to understand.

comment by JMiller · 2015-03-19T17:11:52.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Added to my reading list, thanks!

comment by diegocaleiro · 2015-03-20T22:36:54.362Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

some others I found worthwhile checking:

Human and Animal Behavioral Biology - Robert Sapolsky

General Relativity - Bertrand Russell - ABC of relativity

For LWers I believe Yudkowsky>Feynman>Drescher in explaining Quantum Physics by analogy.

Memetics, from the standpoint of engineering effective memes -> Made to Stick

Memetics, as a discipline, field of knowledge -> Tim Tyler

Anything he talks about - Steve Pinker

Zoology - Dawkins

Cognitive Neuroscience -> I have delved long and hard in this field and have yet to find a good explainer. Jeff Hawkins and Terrence Deacon are ok.

Winning -> Randy Pausch

Biotech trends -> Juan Enriquez

Statistical trends in humans -> Hans Rosling

comment by darius · 2015-03-20T17:59:59.628Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Computing: The Pattern On The Stone by Daniel Hillis. It's shorter and seemingly more focused on principles than the Petzold book Code, which I can't compare further because I stopped reading early (low information density).

comment by Benito · 2015-03-20T06:52:46.395Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Code" by Petzold is a wonderful book which explains how a computer worksl

comment by coyotespike · 2015-03-19T19:22:40.332Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Thinking Physics is Gedanken Physics" is a brilliantly intuitive approach to physics from mechanics to relativity.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-19T04:05:09.215Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would recommend William Poundstone's Prisoner's Dilemma as an intro to game theory.

comment by CurtisSerVaas · 2015-03-23T16:21:57.541Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Metacademy is a knowledge graph of machine learning.

Visual Group Theory is a really well-written book on group theory.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-22T16:33:30.032Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

'Pollination ecology' by Faegri and van dear Pijl makes sense of flower diversity and possibly evolution, though perhaps is heavish for an intro.