TITLE: In Praise of Attacking Hard Problems
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: August 10, 2010 3:36 PM
DESC:
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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.
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