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Exponential or Infinite Search Space

September 26, 2018

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

Having google at your fingertips is useless if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The problem of intractable search space is not just a problem for computers.

It seems to me that humans are efficient at searching for things based on local waypoints. Each time we experience something new, we add waypoints in our mental space so that we can find that experience and the related learnings more easier. Those waypoints are linked to related waypoints such that we can demonstrate good relational reasoning. For example, if I asked you what you learned in your algorithms class, you can probably jump to the waypoint called “algorithms class” then to the waypoints “dynamic programming” and “Dijkstra’s” and “branch and bound” fairly easily. If I ask you to tell me about what you learned in an information theory class that you’ve never taken, you likely will have nothing to say, especially if information theory is completely foreign to you.

Perhaps the point to take away from this post is that you should continually exercise your waypoint-placing and waypoint-finding muscle, i.e. the brain. Unless you know what to look for, your access to Google may turn out to be useless. You don’t want to get stuck in local minimums, but unless you have a waypoint out to a related field or find some partial answer through Google that gives you a waypoint out, you will be forced to declare defeat. So keep learning, keep fighting, keep working hard towards that deep understanding and accomplishment of something that you care about.