Ben Langhinrichs

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The inexorable nature of math

Thu 24 Mar 2005, 11:17 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
So, I was telling my 14 year old son about making Midas crash.  He thought it sounded like fun, but then I said that after fixing the crashes that resulted from comparing each document with the next document, I said I might switch it to compare each document with each other document, just to see if that would kick up any other interesting crashes.  He got kind of a funny look on his face, the slightly pained look of a kid who realizes that he is smarter than his father and must share that fact, and said something like "Dad, wouldn't that be rather a lot of comparisons?".

Well, here is where the inexorable nature of math comes in.  There are 39409 documents in the 2001 Partner forum.  It takes my comparison engine 20 minutes, approximately, to do all the comparisons from the first test.  So, if I were to compare every document with every other document, it would take 776514936 comparisons.  Given that they work at a rate of 39409 every 20 minutes, that means 19704 groups of 29409 , or 394080 minutes, or 6568 hours, or 274 days.  Hmm, guess I'll have to come up with some other test.

What irks me is that he knew that in ten seconds, and I had to sit down and do all this math to convince myself.  Grrr!

Copyright © 2005 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

299.1. Greg
(03/26/2005 04:31 AM)

Hi Ben,

Surely that is one of the most exciting things that can happen to someone... When their offspring figure something out quicker than they do... I hope someday it happens to me.


299.2. Devin Olson
(03/29/2005 12:18 PM)

In his Childe Cycle (Dorsai) series, Gordon R. Dickson described (introduced?) the concept of "intuitive deduction"; that is, the ability to "know" somtething that would ordinarily require some form of reasoning to determine. This is NOT the same as guessing correctly (a guess is still based on probabilities; whereas something intuitively deduced is an absolute, and can be proven by some other form of deduction or algorythm).

This is different than "knowing" through experience: I "know" that the sun will rise tomorrow, based on my experiences.

Dickson postulated that each generation's progeny would be better at this than the previous (translation: our kids are "smarter" than us).

It appears that your boy has proven Dickson's prediction.