Monday, July 30, 2007

A Book on the Energy Crisis

This post is dedicated to a researcher most CS people might not know about (although most information theorists probably do), David MacKay. I encourage you to go take a look at his web page.

David and I got to know of each other's work because we were both working on Low Density Parity Check codes around the same time. Since then, he's written one of the great textbooks on information theory. He's one of the key people behind the Dasher project, which provides text entry methods for the handicapped based on information theoretic principles. (Really. It's amazing what a well-thought out system based on arithmetic coding and a clever UI can do.)

And now he's finishing up a book on sustainable energy. The book is for laypeople, showing how to think in rough quantitative terms about how much energy is available, how much is being used, and what it all means. No matter what you think about the energy crisis, the book serves as an interesting example of how to try to encourage people to think quantitatively about policy-related issues. He's made a draft freely available. I encourage you to have a look.

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