I finished this book last Sunday. I have heard about some interesting achievements like getting a full MIT degree in one year so I wanted to know more about how was that achieved and what I could learn and apply to myself (if possible). I liked the challenge of learning a language each months… with a total exposure and not able to talk English. Honestly, I want to learn German and I want to do it quickly but properly so I want to take some pieces of advice from the book and apply to my case.
I think this can ge a good technique to master specific subjects. But at the end of day, in my opinion, it is all about focus. And that’s my problem, I want to do too many things.
So in summary, the ultralearning process is based on the following principles:
1- Metalearning: It is the research part. You need to know what you want to learn and how to do it.
2- Focus: It is about getting into flow and efficiency. If you dont have the luxury of dedicating 10h a day to your projects. Make the most of your time. And if you have issues, build the habit and strength bit by bit. You want to learn something challenging and difficult, keep it in mind. I liked the example about Mary Somerville. She was a housewife and mother. Still managed to be a top Mathematician!
3- Directness: Currently in schools, university, etc, most of the things we learn dont have a direct application to the practical world. This is knowledge transference. So it you want to learn python, well, use python. So go direct to want you want to learn. If you want to move your career to the AI/ML network infrastructure, you will have to find the technologies (infiniband, GPU, etc) used and learn from them so your CV can be taken into account.
4- Drill: Find your weakness and work on them. Here I learned about the experiences from Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography.
5- Retrieval: trying to recall facts and concepts from memory. The example here is Srinivasa Ramanujan. Free recall tests, in which students need to recall as much as they can remember without a cue, perform better than getting a cue.
6- Feedback: I liked the intro: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Myke Tyson. So testing if we are actually learning, improving it is very important. And how we get that feedback as well.
7- Retention: Another good intro. “Memory is the residue of though” Daniel Willingham. And the example is the World Champion of French Scrabble who didnt speak French, Nigel Richards. So it is about how not forget things. In this kind of challenges, where you are getting a lof of data, it is easy to start forgetting. So the goal is to keep that knowledge, that is with practice (different methods mentioned).
8- Intuition: here the example is mainly Richard Feynman. Main points are: 1) Dont give up on hard problems easily. 2) Prove things to understand them. 3) Start with a concrete example. 3) Be deeply skeptical about your own understanding.
9- Experimentation: It is trying things outside the specific subject you are studying. The example here is how Vincent Van Gogh learnt to paint.
I have read about the Laszlo Polgar experiment about raising his daughters as Chess prodigies but the book gives more details and actually found it even more interesting! I was surprised by the initial “macho” comments from Kasparov… More info about Judit.
In general, nice book, I want/need to put things into practice.