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March 2010
MIT Press
Order Book

Street-Fighting Mathematics

Sanjoy Mahajan
The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving
In Street-Fighting Mathematics, Sanjoy Mahajan builds, sharpens, and demonstrates tools for educated guessing and down-and-dirty, opportunistic problem solving across diverse fields of knowledge—from mathematics to management. Mahajan describes six tools: dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, picture proofs, successive approximation, and reasoning by analogy. Illustrating each tool with numerous examples, he carefully separates the tool—the general principle—from the particular application so that the reader can most easily grasp the tool itself to use on problems of particular interest.

Street-Fighting Mathematics grew out of a short course taught by the author at MIT for students ranging from first-year undergraduates to graduate students ready for careers in physics, mathematics, management, electrical engineering, computer science, and biology.

Sanjoy Mahajan is Associate Director of the Teaching and Learning Laboratory and a Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Before coming to MIT, he was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a Lecturer in Physics in the University of Cambridge.

May 2008
MIT Press
Order Book

Digital Apollo

David A. Mindell
Human and Machine in Spaceflight
As Apollo 11's Lunar Module descended toward the moon under automatic control, a program alarm in the guidance computer’s software nearly caused a mission abort. Neil Armstrong responded by switching off the automatic mode and taking direct control. He stopped monitoring the computer and began flying the spacecraft, relying on skill to land it and earning praise for a triumph of human over machine.

In Digital Apollo, engineer-historian David Mindell takes this famous moment as a starting point for an exploration of the relationship between humans and computers in the Apollo program. In each of the six Apollo landings, the astronaut in command seized control from the computer and landed with his hand on the stick. Mindell recounts the story of astronauts' desire to control their spacecraft in parallel with the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer. From the early days of aviation through the birth of spaceflight, test pilots and astronauts sought to be more than "spam in a can" despite the automatic controls, digital computers, and software developed by engineers. Digital Apollo examines the design and execution of each of the six Apollo moon landings, drawing on transcripts and data telemetry from the flights, astronaut interviews, and NASA's extensive archives.

Mindell's exploration of how human pilots and automated systems worked together to achieve the ultimate in flight—a lunar landing—traces and reframes the debate over the future of humans and automation in space. The results have implications for any venture in which human roles seem threatened by automated systems, whether it is the work at our desktops or the future of exploration.

David A. Mindell is Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, Professor of Engineering Systems, and Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He is the author of Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics and War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor.

March 2010
ILP Communications
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Remote Access

ILP Communications
Take Your Next MIT Meeting Online
Don't let tough economic times limit meaningful discussions with MIT faculty. Let your Industrial Liaison Officer schedule our next meeting online, using the technology best suited for your company's needs.

December 2009
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An Action Plan for Cars

Heywood, Baptista, Berry, Bhatt, Cheah, de Sisternes, Karplus, Keith, Khusid, MacKenzie, McAulay
The Policies Needed to Reduce US Petroleum Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Reducing petroleum consumption and GHG emissions from cars and light duty trucks in the United States over the next several decades requires that we implement a clear and coordinated set of policies now. This report describes a portfolio of policies which, in the view of the authors, is needed to put personal vehicle transportation on the road to sustainability in the longer term.

To incentivize adoption of more fuel efficient vehicles, we propose coupling existing near term fuel economy standards with a feebate incentive program and gradual increases in fuel taxes. We further propose driver education initiatives that would give vehicle owners information on how to maximize fuel savings in their purchase and driving decisions. Finally, we underscore the need for a long term strategy for fuels that evaluates fuels related programs based on their contribution to reducing lifecycle petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Together, these policies offer a robust plan of action that will focus and streamline current efforts to achieve these two important national goals. Perhaps most importantly, this plan lays a much needed foundation for a comprehensive, adaptable long term policy effort.

October 2009
The University of Chicago Press
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In Time of War

Adam J. Berinsky
Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq
From World War II to the war in Iraq, periods of international conflict seem like unique moments in U.S. political history—but when it comes to public opinion, they are not. To make this groundbreaking revelation, In Time of War explodes conventional wisdom about American reactions to World War II, as well as the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Adam Berinsky argues that public response to these crises has been shaped less by their defining characteristics—such as what they cost in lives and resources—than by the same political interests and group affiliations that influence our ideas about domestic issues.

With the help of World War II–era survey data that had gone virtually untouched for the past sixty years, Berinsky begins by disproving the myth of “the good war” that Americans all fell in line to support after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack, he reveals, did not significantly alter public opinion but merely punctuated interventionist sentiment that had already risen in response to the ways that political leaders at home had framed the fighting abroad. Weaving his findings into the first general theory of the factors that shape American wartime opinion, Berinsky also sheds new light on our reactions to other crises. He shows, for example, that our attitudes toward restricted civil liberties during Vietnam and after 9/11 stemmed from the same kinds of judgments we make during times of peace.

With Iraq and Afghanistan now competing for attention with urgent issues within the United States, In Time of War offers a timely reminder of the full extent to which foreign and domestic politics profoundly influence—and ultimately illuminate—each other.