In “The Humbling Power of P v NP“, Lance Fortnow urges theorists to try and solve P v NP “not because you will succeed but because you will fail” . This is the Kobayashi Maru character test for theorists it seems.
So what about non-theorists?
My answer is: So what if a problem is NP-complete? Does this mean that we are going to use that fact as an excuse to not solve it, or present a lousy hack as a solution? Or do people think that such problems do not come along the way of “a real professional”? They do, but theorists are trained to recognize them when they see them.
Just like theorists then, “practical computer people” must try to solve (using whatever tool they see fit) an NP-complete problem (like the TSP for example). Not because they will solve it optimally, but because there will always be a better solution. And by seeking it and understanding that “computation is a nasty beast” they will become better
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