Tag Archives: economics

My Review of “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible”

The Golden Ticket Image

I came home from work on Wednesday a bit too tired to go for a run and a bit too energetic to sit and watch TV. So I decided to pace around my place while reading a good book. The question was did I have a good book to read. I had been reading sci-fi type books earlier this month and wanted a break from that, so I looked in my mailbox and noticed that I had just received my copy of “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible“. At the time, I was of the mindset that I had just gotten off of work and really didn’t want to be reading a text book as if I was still at work. But I decided to give it a try and at least make it through the first few pages and if it got to be overwhelming, I’d just put it down and do something else.

About three hours later I was finishing the final pages of the book and impressed that the author (Lance Fortnow) was able to treat complexity theory the same way that I see physics professors speaking about quantum physics and the expanding universe on shows like “the Universe” and “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” where complex topics are spoken about with everyday terminology. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Dr. Fortnow on shows like “The Colbert Report” or “The Daily Show” introducing the topics in this book to a wider audience.

Below is the review I left on Amazon.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a light enough read to finish in one sitting on a weeknight within a few hours, but also showed its importance by being able to connect the dots between the P = NP problem to issues in health care, economics, security, scheduling and a number of other problems. And instead of talking in a "professor-like" tone, the author creates illustrative examples in Chapters 2 and 3 that are easy to grasp. These examples form the basis for much of the problems addressed in the book.

This is a book that needed to be written and needs to be on everyone's bookshelf, particularly for those asking questions like "what is mathematics" or "what is mathematics used for". This book answers those questions, and towards the end gives examples (in plain English) of the different branches of mathematics and theoretical computer science, without making it read like a text book.

Also, here is a link to the blog that Lance Fortnow and William Gasarch run called “Computational Complexity”, and here is a link to the website of the book, “The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible”

What Can I Do to Help End the Recession?

I was reading through am article at UrbanCusp on Occupy Wall Street and it really got me to thinking about myself and my involvement in this movement. I’ve never attended an ‘occupy’ rally and rarely read the reports. I did attend the “One Nation” rally last year as well as the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Rally to Restore Sanity”, but does that really mean anything?

In the midst of this recession, I have a few friends that are unemployed and others who feel underemployed. A large part of me wonders what I should be doing to help with this? Ultimately, I guess I would like to help end the recession, but how? And to what end? The OWS movement shines light on the growing wealth disparities between the different economic classes in America. There is also a large wealth gap between White family income and Black family income. These are problems I grew up learning about, and, honestly, feeling helpless in terms of doing something about it, and a large part of me wonders what I can do about it. A large part of me feels helpless, like there’s not much that I can do to help drop the unemployment rate or increase property values or help to solve a ton of other problems that America is currently facing.

But as always, I guess there’s a little voice in my head telling me that maybe I can’t end poverty in itself, but I can do things to help those I come in contact with to help find jobs or to become better equipped on the job search, or to just keep their heads up during these tough times. I mean, that’s partially why I created this site.

I don’t like hearing people, particularly my friends, say that they are limited by what their teacher/book/class is teaching them. Some of my friends are finished with school and are not interested in going back to take classes (or paying more money), but would still like to learn new material. We live in a world where information and new material is only a click away. So while a more ‘formal’ means to building your resume may be through classes and certifications, another comes through simply taking initiative and being aggressive and willing to try new things and to learn new things.

I’ve found that there’s a certain feeling that comes along with learning something new. I don’t know about you, but suddenly I feel like I can take on the world. Doors that we didn’t know existed are suddenly opened and avenues that once seemed shut out suddenly become open.

But a big part of the ‘learning game’ is understand that you are not limited by your teacher or your book. In the process of learning, especially learning online, you’ll come across many sources that you do not understand. Maybe its your first source, maybe its your first five or first 50 sources, but the key is to understand that its a process and never lose hope. All you need is one source to learn new material. And I also stress not to be afraid to ask questions – whether these are questions to yourself, questions to an informed friend, or just posting them at a message board. One of my largest frustrations with the teacher / student model for learning is that some teachers shun questions, which makes students feel unintelligent for asking questions. But one of my favorite musical lyrics goes “even the genius asks his questions”, which I constantly use to inspire me throughout this learning process.

But that’s enough talking on my end, my question is what are you going to do to help end the recession?