Intractable problems.

The speed at which a problem can be solved on a computer is measured by time complexity. Basically, how many steps does it take to finish a problem where the input data is of size n? If life were simple, problems would all be solved in O(1) time, and what Prof. Harvey said about the speed of light being a serious problem for processor speed would be true. But alas, we do not live a simple life, and some problems take O(n), O(n^2), or gasp! really really bad unspeakable function-times such as O(n^3), O(n!), or O(2^n) . Such problems are known as intractable problems. Moreover, not only do they have egregious run times, but there is no known algorithm to optimize and reduce the amount of steps required to solve the problem. That is the key to the label. Sometimes, we are just stuck, and there is no solution.

There are some problems, such as the Traveling Salesman problem, that are intractable. Then there are these other problems in real life…

Let’s say you meet this person in some arbitrary place, just prior to going to college. Well, through casual conversation you learn where they are going – oh snap! – it’s where you’re going too – and you’re in the same dormitory housing complex too! But time has passed, and you do not recognize her face that well anymore… you’re scared that if you think you see her, and you say hi, and it’s not her, you will be embarrassed. On the other hand, if it’s actually her, how awkward it would be to pass by and not say hi! She has made a lot of friends. And then you think of an amazing idea, that is, asking her to hang out. Via Facebook. What a great idea indeed. </sarcasm>

You have no other means of communication, except face-to-face, which means taking that risk of saying hi. Or going that other, more technology dependent, route. Or do nothing about it and face pseudo-awkwardness from time to time.

Intractable problem? Or just unfounded fears? Or…both?

There are many things I like about Gracepoint. The people are nice, Pastor Ed is the shiz at speaking, articulating, and connecting to college students, and we go to cool places where I can practice my photography. šŸ™‚ But, to be honest, I have to disagree with their “OMG isolation is bad bad bad go and bond with ppl nowwwww!!!!1” approach. Because sometimes, life presents intractable problems: in my case, the social scene. Sometimes, I feel they force upon “bonding”. It feels fake, like they do it because their pastor does it, or maybe even because this is how they attract so many people, some of which whom eventually accept the Gospel message. Do the ends justify the means? I dunno. However, as a result, I feel a little bit alienated from all this. I’m different. I like isolation, as I fear that others will not accept me for who I am, and thus I am slightly “antisocial”. Is this wrong? After all, this is a legitimate, justified fear in the real world, and I am a practical man, one who still holds slim notions of interleaving work to be done on Earth and praise to be done with our heavenly creator.

And as I feel increasingly alienated to what Pastor Ed (and the Kairos staff) continue to espouse, I am seriously questioning the validity of this particular fellowship group/church. Bonding does not occur naturally to me, I have trouble creating close friendships; hanging out doesn’t remedy it. They say it does, they being Pastor Ed, and even the elitists on College Confidential who act like they are better than the hoards of people who continuously ask “how do I get friends” after the 2nd month of college has passed.

Thus, we are here at a crossroads, peering into an intractable problem.

I will probably stay within Kairos. And I will probably still make friends, as hard as it seems sometimes. But when they make it sound like it’s easy, when they make actions like conversation, bonding, sound easy… I am surely startled. When they keep saying it, I am surely annoyed. It is not easy, at least not for me, and most likely not for others as well. If you say it is, you’re putting on a mask – the very action you preached not to do. This mask, however, is not on a person. It is on a fundamental issue connected to human nature and the core of human psyche. In some ways I think that’s probably 10x worse.

So, if it’s O(n^3), don’t say it’s O(3n) and “ignore the constant factor”. It is most certainly an intractable problem.


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