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The Power Of Computing Essay

2182 words - 9 pages

Imagine life before the smart-phone. How did society manage without a smart-phone? Society today is exceedingly dependent on new technology. The development of the cell phone the past 10 years has expressed this dependence. Much like the cell phone, the computer’s role in society has increased drastically. Since society is reliant on technology, it is important to consider the issues that have come up as a consequence of this trust. Because technology has taken over society, it is critical that society is cognizant of the events involved with technology. A famous computer science problem “P vs. NP” examines some of the complications with technology. Problems called “NP” cannot be solved ...view middle of the document...

Pavlus has a very good analogy of describing this problem:
“Think of grocery shopping: you tick off the item one by one until you reach the end of the list. Complexity theorists label these problems P, for “polynomial time”, which is a mathematically precise way of saying that no matter how long the grocery list becomes, the amount of time that it will take to tick off all the items will never grow at an unmanageable rate. In contrast, many more problems may or may not be practical to solve by simply ticking off items on a list, but checking the solution is easy.”(Pavlus 72)
The problems that cannot be solved quickly are of great importance to computer scientists because it turns out that these problems seem to occur a lot. Many of these problems are applicable in society: “The problem has practical implications for physics and molecular biology, cryptography, national security, evolution, the limits of mathematics, and perhaps even the nature of reality” (Pavlus 72). The importance of these problems has increased because of their application in society. Computer scientists are often fascinated by the problems that cannot be resolved quickly by a computer because of the recognition that would be received by solving one of these problems. Godel first raised this problem in 1956 and in 2014 this problem remains unsolved, so one has to wonder why computer scientists are still attempting to solve this problem. Is this problem worth all the time and effort that has been placed in it?
The growth of the computer over the last decade has been outstanding. Even the occasional user could tell that the speed of computers has grown significantly. The article “Ultimate PC Would Be a Hot Little Number”, by Charles Seife discusses the innovations that have been made in the computer. Seife outlines the steps that have been made to the computer that have increased the processing power of the computer. The computers today are now able to communicate with themselves, as well as the user at a much faster pace. Because of the innovations that have been made to the computer the ability of the solving more complex should have increased as well, but “P vs. NP” indicates a different story. As it turns out the computer is now able to solve the problems that live in “P” quicker, but, the problems that live in “NP” remain unsolved. The computer has always been able to solve the problems that live in “P”, but now with improvements in the speed of the computer these problems can now be solved in much shorter time. The problems that live in “NP” have been unaffected by the innovations that have been made to the computer. Even the most powerful computers in the world cannot solve these problems that live in “NP”. If a supercomputer cannot solve these problems are they even solvable?
The article “The Status of the P versus NP problem” written by Lance Fortnow examines the current state of the problem “P vs. NP” in computer science and mathematical fields. Fortnow believes...

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