Problems are Either Trivial or Intractable

It has been said “Problems are either trivial or intractable”. Several points can be made about this:

  • This is experienced by the undergraduate when he or she experiences the something of a leap when going from the first two years of their degree to the last two years.
  • The reason why problems are either trivial or intractable is a matter of combinatorics. As you add variables to a problem, the number of ways that these variables can be combined scales factorially
  • This implies that there is a lack of middle ground problems.
  • The fact that the vast majority of people who complete an undergraduate education do not complete a graduate education is, in part, a result of this jump discontinuity in problem complexity
  • The task of the researcher is to make intractable problems tractable (trivial)
  • In some since, research is an exercise in complexity management

Published by Terry Price

Terry J. Price

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