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10/05/2020 - Posted in book , knowledge Posted by:

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reading time: 2 minute

by Scott Young


In 2012 Scott Young started a challenge to learn the entire 4 year MIT computer science curriculum in just 12 months. Based on his idea of super efficient learning, he composed a book called “Ultralearning”. The whole idea of his book is to explain how he approached this, and similar projects of learning a lot of information in a very short amount of time. The book iterates 9 principles of ultralearning that help you when you want to tackle similar projects yourself.

Learning — A Network of Procedures Reinforcing Each Other

While some of the projects in the book sound like impossible feats, Scott Young provides numerous examples that show you that there is far more possible than we expect. The examples range from learning languages to the level of fluency within a year, to consistently winning at jeopardy and even raising children to be able to play chess on world-class level. The aim of the method explained in the book, however, is not to cram information, but to learn for long lasting understanding. Despite most examples of ultralearning projects being time consuming, the book also shows you how to combine these projects when you have less time available. Even if you are not planning to do an ultralearning project, I highly recommend this book because it will help you with any learning in general.


Of my other reviews “How to read a book” comes closest. Although I have read “A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science” by Barbara Oakley (and followed her course “Learning how to learn“), I have not written my review yet. Oakley’s approach is more relaxed, scientific, and targeted towards learning in a traditional way through schools and other institutionalized education. Both, Ultralearning and Barbara Oakley’s work, complement each other and are a great read if you are interested in improving your learning skills.

interesting thoughts / quotes

…something mentally strenuous provides a greater benefit to learning than something easy.

Chapter 7 – Principle 4: Drill; p98

Certain strategies — spacing, proceduralization, overlearning, and mnemonics — can counteract your short- and long-term rates of forgetting and end up making a huge difference in your memorization.

Chapter 10 – Principle 7: Retention; p138

A hungry person can eat only so much food. A lonely person can have only so much companionship. Curiosity doesn’t work this way. The more one learns, the greater the craving to learn more. The better one gets, the more one recognizes how much better one could become.

Chapter 14; p194

i liked

The very methodical approach to learning, almost like an algorithm that you can follow.

i disliked

Like with many of the self-help books, some things are rather repetitive and a little trimming would make the book more pleasurable to read.

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