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The Golden Ticket

P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible

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The P-NP problem is the most important open problem in computer science, if not all of mathematics. The Golden Ticket provides a nontechnical introduction to P-NP, its rich history, and its algorithmic implications for everything we do with computers and beyond. In this informative and entertaining book, Lance Fortnow traces how the problem arose during the Cold War on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and gives examples of the problem from a variety of disciplines, including economics, physics, and biology. He explores problems that capture the full difficulty of the P-NP dilemma, from discovering the shortest route through all the rides at Disney World to finding large groups of friends on Facebook. But difficulty also has its advantages. Hard problems allow us to safely conduct electronic commerce and maintain privacy in our online lives.

The Golden Ticket explores what we truly can and cannot achieve computationally, describing the benefits and unexpected challenges of the P-NP problem.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 28, 2013 – This awkward but eager work introduces readers to one of the most complicated problems in mathematics. P-type problems have a single solution and can be solved easily by computer, whereas NP, or “nondeterministic polynomial” problems, involve finding the relative “best” of numerous possible answers. NP problems include map-coloring puzzles, traveling-salesman puzzles (which seek to find the best combinations of routes between locations), and clique problems, like finding the largest group of people on Facebook who are all friends of each other. Fortnow’s “Golden Ticket” would be proof that P=NP, the discovery of efficient ways to solve NP-type problems. Whoever solves this decidedly nontrivial problem—one of the Clay Institute for Mathematics’ six unsolved “Millennium Problems”—will receive a $1 million prize. In addition to exploring the actual quandary, Fortnow, chair of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s school of computer science, lays out a quick modern history of mathematical problem solving, and enthuses over the possibilities of a “beautiful world” where P=NP: the ability to quickly sequence DNA, cure cancer and AIDs, and predict the weather. Despite moments of notational confusion—what exactly do “P H NP,” “P W NP,” and “P M NP” mean?—Fortnow effectively initiates readers into the seductive mystery and importance of P and NP problems. 41 halftones, 41 line illus.
The Golden Ticket
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  • $18.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Programming
  • Published: Mar 27, 2013
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 192 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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