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Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  212 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
"Guesstimation" is a book that unlocks the power of approximation--it's popular mathematics rounded to the nearest power of ten! The ability to estimate is an important skill in daily life. More and more leading businesses today use estimation questions in interviews to test applicants' abilities to think on their feet. "Guesstimation" enables anyone with basic math and sc ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 9th 2009 by Princeton University Press (first published April 1st 2008)
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Feb 01, 2011 Terri rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I understand base ten, took algebra, calculus, and trig in high school (and got good grades at those), and have studied probability and statistics in college (at both the Bachelor's and Master's levels), so even though math isn't my strong suit, I am fairly competent at it. But I was confused by page 4 of this book - the authors present an equation and then the answer without the crosswalk between the two. Skimming ahead, I see that this book and I are not going to get along at all. One question ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Vorbis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I'm actually not sure if I read this or a version that was 2.0 - but there's no 2.0 listed on the author's booklist, so we'll say it was this one. It presents guesstimated problem solving to really obscure and stupid questions and then solves them. There's no story tying anything together, it's like one of those quiz books where every page is just random stuff that caught the author's interest.

Which is actually really boring.

I flipped through, there weren't any problems I actually wanted to know
Joanna Chen
Aug 27, 2010 Joanna Chen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly interesting set-ups for conquering estimations. Gives lots of useful figures that all people should know and teaches you how to quickly solve your own large scaled problems! Also great for interview questions.
I love this book, and my students will too, as I assign each problem to them.
Maurizio Codogno
[se vuoi una mia recensione più seria di questo libro, va' su Galileo, "" !]
La spannometria è la regina delle scienze approssimate, come scrissi a suo tempo sul mio Gergo Telematico ( ). Un po' più seriamente, quella di stimare i risultati a partire da dati apparentemente incompleti è un'arte che ha anche dei risvolti pratici, visto che permette di verificare con carta e penna se i numeri che si ottengono sono coerenti con quelli che
Jan 16, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pop Scientists
Recommended to Brian by: Gabriel Thoumi
Guesstimation 2.0 Solving Today's Problems on the Back of a Napkin succeeds where most popular science literature so often fails. This is because it provides its readers with a scientific tool they can use immediately in their everyday lives.

Lawrence Weinstein, Professor of Physics at Old Dominion University, and author of Guesstimation 2.0 Solving Today's Problems on the Back of a Napkin first provides a tutorial on how to appropriately frame questions that appear too difficult to answer. His
Feb 09, 2010 Danjo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is meant to be read fast, the reader dwelling on physics formulas and arithmetic only in intriguing areas. It is a book of big numbers; you understand logarithms inadvertently by its end. The book covered high-school physics well; it contains "word problems" about size, speed, astronomy, electricity, pressure--all the fun stuff. Lots of conversions to standard metric units. Handy technique for quickly estimating using the mean of exponents. Examples of problems: What percentage of U.S. ...more
Alexander Ray
Mar 27, 2016 Alexander Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skimmed
The introductory part of this book contains a good overview on Fermi estimation, and particularly why and how to use Approximate Geometric Means.

I would recommend checking out the book (from the library) just to read the short introduction, and flip through a couple of the problems to see what they're like.

You can 80/20 this book with about 10 minutes.
Ami Iida
Mar 24, 2015 Ami Iida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to learn the logical thinking, People who want to think quantitative things
Shelves: framework, math
This book is a problem collection of Fermi problem
What is the Fermi problem?
Commentary is as follows:

I recommend the book People who want to learn the logical thinking and
People who want to think quantitative things.
Feb 16, 2016 Nicha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are not only some brilliant questions which are interesting to solve, but also many nonsense questions ( or maybe I just couldn't understand them)
In the beginning it was interesting, it didn't attract me at all, even I love mathematics.
I'll admit it, this was a really difficult read for me. Studying abstract math and only thinking about logic for years has only been detrimental to my ability to think about applied problem solving. This is a really short book, but each section left me thinking for hours afterward, trying to figure out distances and volumes, wanting to measure items and calculate things. Basically, it left me thinking about all the things I tried to avoid in math and physics courses for my whole life: the real w ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Dawnh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A physics professor at my school is one of the authors of this book. We are using it as the text for a seminar he teaches called Physics on the back of an envelope. It is a lot of fun and really helps me learn to think through things with quick estimates and comparisons. The book itself is a quick, easy read with lots of examples and hints. After a bit of practice it is fun to come up with my own questions to estimate.
Nov 18, 2009 Aathavan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is amazing as to how much one can estimate with very minimal knowledge. Some of the problems that stand out are

- what are the odds /mile of dying in a plane and in a car?
- How much star debris would a supernova dump on earth?
- how much more corn fields would we need to convert to ethanol based fuel economy?
- What is the power density of the sun?

Sep 07, 2013 Bashnev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maths, pop-sci
A good introduction to estimations or so-called "Fermi problems". Lots of fun estimates to have a go at. Mostly only arithmetic is required though some problems require a knowledge of volume calculations and basic concepts from physics. Good source of questions for teachers wanting problem solving material without excessive discipline content required to actually do the problems.
Jan 03, 2014 Krollo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half was great and it was fun to work out estimates, but towards the end it got ridiculously convoluted and technical (coming from someone with a generally alright knwlledge of maths and science).
Steve Schlutow
This is a great book full of fun facts, and the math that estimates such.. The probability of a base ball landing in my beer cup is my favorite..
Vikram Barate
Jun 06, 2013 Vikram Barate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing mathematics formulas ans answers. Good thing is you need not be great in mathematics to know all this.
Jan 04, 2009 Teo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
wow, learnt that almost 10million people are digging their nose at every instant
Aug 09, 2010 Curtis marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, analysis
How to Measure Anything is supposed to be a better book
Ashwini Pandey
Apr 20, 2010 Ashwini Pandey is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent so far
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