Guesstimation

By Lawrence Weinstein and John A. Adam, 2008, 301 pages, amazon

What does guesstimation mean? Something between guess and estimation or even better – a little bit of both. Subtitle of this book is “Solving the world’s problems on the back of a cocktail napkin” suggests what this book is about. Shows you how to guess/estimate answers to some not so obvious questions and even though you can be sure you’re not going to be right, you can be confident that you’re at least in the correct order of magnitude (which is pretty good for general comparison).

Some of the questions this book asks (and answers) are: How many km do Americans drive in a year? How many piano tuners are there in Los Angeles? Is it safer to drive or to fly? How long is all the DNA on your body? What is the surface area of a typical bath towel? How much electrical power does the US use in a year? And many more…

All you will need to answer these questions is a willingness to think and to handle big numbers… You will be astonished at how much you can figure out starting with the knowledge you already have.

With this and two very short chapters on some basic principles, the book immmediately dives into the problems themselves.

Don’t expect that after reading this book you will be able to guesstimate just about anything, but you will be able to guesstimate a lot and have an idea how to approach the rest. Recommended, easy to read and fits a bigger pocket.

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