TITLE: In Praise of Attacking Hard Problems AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 10, 2010 3:36 PM DESC: ----- BODY: With the analysis of Deolalikar's P != NP paper now under way in earnest, I am reminded of a great post last fall by Lance Fortnow, The Humbling Power of P v NP. Why should every theorist try to prove P = NP and P != NP?
Not because you will succeed but because you will fail. No matter what teeth you sink into P vs NP, the problem will bite back. Think you solved it? Even better. Not because you did but because when you truly understand why your proof has failed you will have achieved enlightenment.
You might even succeed, though I'm not sure if the person making the attempt achieves the same kind of enlightenment in that case. Even if Deolalikar's proof holds up, Fortnow's short essay will still be valuable and true. We'll just use a different problem as our standard. -----