Where are we with P = NP?

KurzweilAI.net led me to a terrific article concerning the current status of answering the question of whether or not P = NP.  As the author, Lance Fortnow, aptly notes, "The P versus NP problem has gone from an interesting problem related to logic to perhaps the most fundamental and important mathematical question of our time, whose importance only grows as computers become more powerful and widespread."

The topic of P versus NP is certainly not a new one but one which is only vaguely familiar to many software developers.  If nothing else, gaining a better appreciation for P versus NP problems can better prepare you for recognizing when the problem you are working on turns out to be NP-complete and arm you with a strong toolset for delivering an adequate solution.  But taking the appreciation a bit further, the question of whether or not P = NP sheds an aesthetic beauty on the fact that our software development practices are so firmly embedded in the realm of mathematics...and that our code is only a shallow shell around that world.  Any time spent gaining a better understanding of the underlying mathematics and algorithmic nature of programming will quickly enlighten you to seeing development in a completely different light.

Billy McCafferty

Posted 10-08-2009 3:06 PM by Billy McCafferty



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