Category Archives: Computer Science

A ‘Reasonable Amount of Time’

The concept of a ‘reasonable amount of time’ figures a fair bit in abstract computational complexity theory; but what is a ‘reasonable amount of time’ in practice?  This post outlines the problem of balancing between the two competing ideals of determinism and adaptability and offers a flexible working definition.  (Not to be taken too seriously: it’s summer vacation time.)

A standard text on combinatorial problems and optimisation algorithms – perhaps discussing the TSP, for example – might read something like:

“… so we tend not to be as interested in particular complexity values for individual problem instances as how these complexities change as the input problem size (n) increases.  Suppose then, that for a given problem, we can solve a problem instance of size n = L in a reasonable amount of time.  What then happens if we increase the size of the problem from n = L to n = L+1?  How much harder does the …?”

or, filling in a few gaps:

“… so we tend not to be as interested in particular complexity values for individual problem instances as how these complexities change as the input problem size (n) increases.  Suppose then that we can solve a TSP of 20 cities on a standard desktop PC in a reasonable amount of time.  What then happens if we increase the number of cities from 20 to 21?  How much longer does …?”

All good stuff, and sensible enough, but what’s this ‘reasonable amount of time’?

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‘Conscious’: Second edition!

The , er …, somewhat ‘unexpected political events’ of 2016 have meant that a few points of detail in the book have had to be rewritten!  But there’s good news too …

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Some, shall we say, not-entirely-predicted elections and other votes have produced a second edition rather earlier than expected!  The storyline’s entirely unaltered and the changes in detail aren’t huge either but were necessary for global consistency.  However, this has now also allowed Amazon’s direct publishing service to be used, resulting in significantly lower costs for both the paperback and Kindle edition.  These cheaper, more up-to-date options can now be downloaded/ordered from:

Paperback:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Vic-Grout/dp/1520590121/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conscious-Vic-Grout/dp/1520590121/

Kindle:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Vic-Grout-ebook/dp/B06X3V8TFG/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conscious-Vic-Grout-ebook/dp/B06X3V8TFG/

Full details of all editions and formats can still be seen in The Book.


‘CONSCIOUS: The Movie’!

Don’t get excited: it’s only a publicity video!

Here’s a short ‘trailer’ interview for the novel.  About ten minutes: the first part discusses the book itself; the second, some wider issues.

Huge thanks to the Glyndwr student magazine, Egwyl, editors, Emma, Kara and Jade (with assistance from Tom) for putting this together.

See The Book for details of how to get it.


Abstract Data?

The arguments about ‘abstract art’ (compared with ‘real’ art) rage on.  But could we soon be having similar debates about data?  Or has it already happened?

(The first part of this post is deliberately written from the point of view of an analytic treatment of art.  If you’re going to scream, ‘No, you can’t reduce it to that!’, then it’s not aimed at you – but ‘sorry’, anyway.)

‘Abstract art’, sometimes ‘modern art’, divides people.  To some, it’s the pinnacle of human achievement, the height of our civilisation; setting us spiritually apart from the functional necessity of other species.  To others, it’s a pointless diversion; an excuse for people who can’t read, write or add up to feel worthwhile about themselves and give each other awards and qualifications.

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