Thursday, March 10, 2005

Unlikely Inspiration

Well, on Tuesday I found myself at Borders. I often get ahead of traffic and need to kill some time before meeting up with the squinks at the gym, as they often run on Kuliga time. And regardless of how I'm feeling or what I'm up to I can always fill my time in a book store.

So I was browsing through the math section and a book on Combinatorial Optimization caught my eye. I glanced through the table of contents and saw that it covered linear programming in depth, and then looked like it went on to 'real' programming ideas. I've never had too in depth a schooling on linear programming. The only experience I've had came from Mr. Doty (that feels wrong, but Vince isn't right either -- I need to explore the Mike/Mr.K Andrew/Mr.Casteel duality a little more) and I definetly liked it, but I've got some more tools in my aresenal to attack it a little more fully.

Anyway I actually break a promise to myself a pick up the book (I don't often find math texts for under $20). My to-read queue is long enough without adding to it. But I finished a couple of borrowed books this weekend, and so started to read the preface. This is where some warning bells went off.

The preface talks about how it will cover linear programming and then cover the new concept of NP-Completeness. At this point I freak a bit and check the publication date. It's 1981. Whoops. But I decide to read anyway.

And it's a good thing I did. Putting myself in the mindset the book generates actually may have allowed me to get past a rather challenging problem that has presented itself at work. Hopefully my inspiration will pay off and I'll have some kick ass code to show for it.

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