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Models of My Life

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In this candid and witty autobiography, Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon looks at his distinguished and varied career, continually asking himself whether (and how) what he learned as a scientist helps to explain other aspects of his life.A brilliant polymath in an age of increasing specialization, Simon is one of those rare scholars whose work defines fields of inquiry. Cro ...more
Paperback, 415 pages
Published October 8th 1996 by MIT Press (first published 1991)
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This was a terrific read. I only wished I would have had access to the book 35 years ago when I embarked on my engineering degree. It would have given me a much more strategic perspective on scientific pursuits and I would have been incentivised to aim for higher levels of excellence.

Herbert Simon’s autobiography feels like a masterclass in the presence of an incredibly sharp and inquisitive mind. The narrative voice is fluid, purposeful, engaging, and not without humour. Whether he is expoundi
Jul 21, 2019 added it
Shelves: memoir
As someone who's never read Simon's actual scientific work, I'm not sure quite how useful this was to me. I suppose my interest in his work is piqued... but as a memoir, there was just a bit too much academic politics (about the most tedious subject there is) and self-promotion along the lines of "then I, like, became a psychologist, and then I kinda became an economist." Sure, there's some good discussion on interdisciplinary progress and introspection about how social science is done, but on t ...more
Cedric Chin
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite the rather dry writing style, I found this book engrossing. Herbert Simon won both the Nobel Prize in Economics and the Turing Award, and built a body of work that spanned public policy, political science, psychology, economics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. This book documents his journey through the 'maze of life' — the central metaphor for decision making in his work — and details the backroom dealings and politics that make up the life of a scientist at the dawn of ...more
Akhil Jain
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Let me state the Travel Theorem precisely, and then say how I came to discover it. Theorem: Anythingp, . that can be learned by a normal American adult on a trip to a foreign country (of less than one year's'sduration) can be learned more quickly, cheaply, and easily by visiting the San Diego Public Library, , .San Diego is not essential; you can substitute any other major city

The phrase "open door" no doubt reminded most of the Chinese in my audience of the traditional proverb"" ,"If you
I have enjoyed reading this book, especially because I am into research, and this makes it look so exciting. Starting from political science to economics, to artificial intelligence to cognitive psychology, it has been an amazing journey to read this autobiography. There have been parts which I have enjoyed so much, like the Apple short story, the initial years in college (Chicago) and also how he initially did research in administration. It has been a beautiful ride in someone's life, and somet ...more
Vikrant Varma
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The surprisingly dull autobiography of a truly remarkable polymath who pioneered several important domains including AI and decision theory. An important lesson I learned from this book is that the simplest of tasks can have deep undiscovered complexity. Much of Simon’s breakthrough thinking seems to have happened as he tackled seemingly mundane administrative tasks, including coming up with the idea of bounded rationality. There are low hanging fruits of discovery everywhere for someone with a ...more
J  Brown
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a bit of a monotonous read but I think I liked it that way. Herbert Simon is a self professed intellectual who was able to see the world, work at one of the best research universities in the U.S., and win a Nobel prize on the way. He does a good job of describing his childhood and the part where he describes his teaching strategies however brief was really great.
Tom Williams
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***** for the sections describing his life as a young scientist. **× for the other bits. ***× overall.
Tey Shi
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I can't say this was an exciting read but occasionally you find important life lessons sprinkled around (if you have the patience to stick around). For instance, he advised his research student to work on something that is not only important to be solved but also in an area where they have an edge over others in solving it. For Dr Simon, he was able to make use of his unique access to computers in those early days when other researchers do not, and that allowed him to discover new findings faste ...more
Peter Reczek
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting, if self-serving biography of a mathematical modeler in economics and other fields as well. Wold have been a better book if Simon had taken the time to explain how he did his work and its implications rather than simply list his accomplishments
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
rather brief. quick read. very basic stuff.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Models mm
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think Prof. Simon's work is much insightful read. This is a dry autobiography which may appeal to a person aspiring for an academic career in the US.
 Korance Goodwin
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall the account has some real gems like Simon admitting that it was who he knew as much as what he discovered that got him a Nobel prize. Unfortunately much of the story is filled with boring acronym laden academic politics and analysis. If the reader is willing to sift through that, Simon gives brilliant first hand accounts of his life as a hard working ultra logical academic political genius who developed intellectually through the upheavals of World War II, the Cold War and founding of Ca ...more
Alexander Lawson
I was looking for more exposition on Simon's work on decision making and artificial intelligence. For someone who stated that his interests were research, he spends too much time describing academic politics, and seems to have enjoyed his triumphs more than he lets on.

Nevertheless, good as a source of some of the history of AI.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
One of my heroes, Herb Simon was an amazing polymath: PhD in political science, Nobel prize in Economics, professor of Engineering, and most famous for his work in Artificial Intelligence. Ironically, as an autobiography, this book shows an idiosyncratic man out of touch with his human side. What a mind, though.
Yaqiao Li
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
who else won both a Nobel prize and a Turing award?
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9 likes · 1 comments
“Enlightenments, like accidents, happen only to prepared minds.
“I advise my graduate students to pick a research problem that is important (so that it will matter if it is solved), but one for which they have a secret weapon that gives some prospect of success. Why a secret weapon? Because if the problem is important, other researchers as intelligent as my students will be trying to solve it; my students are likely to come in first only by having access to some knowledge or research methods the others do not have.” 6 likes
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