Wednesday, June 16, 2004

From the "NP != Non-Polynomial" department...

Was browsing some science news, and came upon this tidbit (emphasis added) in a PR release for a SIGGRAPH paper on mesh simplification:

Computer scientists have struggled with the problem of finding an optimal mix of large and small elements for years. In 1998, theoreticians proved that the problem was ''NP hard'' -- that no general solution exists that can be solved by a computer in finite length of time.


Later on, the article goes on to say:

'This is not a hack,'' says another expert, in the field [.. snip ..], using the term for a makeshift, unsystematic improvisation. ''It has a strong formal basis. You can make up extreme cases that will trick it, but for ordinary shapes, it works remarkably well.''

That's funny. Strong formal basis, but has extreme cases that can trick it ? If it sounds like one and smells like one....

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