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How the Web Rallied To Review the P != NP Claim 160

An anonymous reader writes "Remember, about a month ago, when a researcher claimed he had a proof that P != NP? Well, the proof hasn't held up. But blogs and news sites helped spur a massive, open, collaborative effort on the Internet to understand the paper and to see if its ideas could be extended. This article explains what happened, how the proof was supposed to work, and why it failed."

Comment Re:Average (Score 1) 617

You never have understood this because you never really gave it much thought. You certainly didn't giving much quality thought today (modded insightful -- really moderators?).

First, ComputerGeek01, I challenge you to come up with an actual example of a student who dropped out of school simply because they got an "F" grade instead of a "D".

Secondly, There is no such "definition" for which some students must receive below a passing grade. A "C" grade is determined by the instructor, and most of the time is *not* a strict curve. In fact, in many classes it is possible for the majority of students to get "A" and "B"s. For most schools there is no requirement to grade on a curve and it is in fact possible for all students in a course to pass.

Thirdly, a critical problem with the "D" grade is that in many schools, a "D" grade allows a student technically "passes" the class, but the D-grade student has not really learned enough or demonstrated the skills necessary to learn in the next class. Often a "D" is an excuse to have the student slide into the next class, whereas an "F" might mean they need to retake the course. The whole idea of eliminating the "D" grade is to improve accountability -- to stop this train of migrating essentially failing students from one class to the next and then out the door with a substandard education.

An "F" grade is a clear warning or signal that the student is not prepared to continue with their education. If a student is getting "F" grades it's the role of school educators, parents and the community to figure out why (ADD, dyslexia, family problems) -- chances are it has nothing to do with the student's inherent ability to learn.

What a student should learn (and I dont' know what the capital of Nebraska is FWIW) is a matter of debate. And certainly every adult, even those with severe learning disabilities should have a chance to find a job that suits their strengths. But handing out diplomas to high-school students with less than a 2.0 GPA who are essentially illiterate is unfair both to employers and the students.

Comment Big surprise for disappointed people? (Score 1) 955

Anyone who's ever seen TV writers at work should have recognized from the start that Lost was basically a shaggy dog story.

What's amazed me as someone very outside the show (I half-watched one episode) is the longevity of the show - that the writers were able to weave a story over five seasons in order keep audience interest this long.

Bottom line: to the writers, producers: - kudos, you earned the recognition, $$$.

To anyone who expected a payoff involving a truly cohesive meaningful meaning. You're looking in the wrong place - this is and was never a "Babylon Five". For Lost, the journey *was* the destination, and if you had some fun trying to dissect the meaning with friends and peers then that is the reward.

With Lost being so successful, there *will* be successors. Where will the writers go? What will be "Lost II" and will it be better/worse? Will it attract an audience or will people who have watched Lost never watch a similar show again? Those questions are bound to be more interesting than the finale.

Comment The medium does not determine art (Score 3, Insightful) 733

Mr. Ebert is incorrect for the very reason that the medium does not determine art.

Writing is often used with an objective - to communicate inventory, describe an actual scene, give orders.

Rhythm and rhyming may be used to aid in memorization, to aid in oral recollection.

Pictures, video are used for documentation, recorded evidence.

Wood, marble, steel is shaped to create buildings, stairs, chairs, eating utensils or religious relics.

Bodies move with precision in order to build, cook, or fight.

Interactive computer programs and simulations exist to educate, train, provide guided assistance on tasks, or obtain information.

At some point we get art out of all these mediums. We decorate the urn, make our religious icons more elaborate, tweak our oral histories to make them more fun to listen to, arrange our photo shots, play with the beats, create a more elaborate melody. The medium changes from straight functionality more and more to creation for aesthetics, to elicit an emotional response rather than a strict material/practical goal.

For me this point in video games (interactive computer programs and simulations), was definitely reached when playing "Planescape: Torment" back in the early 2000's. Yes, ostensibly you have a clear goal, and you can win the game. But the dialog and overall plot elements are such that I was immersed in thought, absorbed by the characterization and concepts. For others in my rough age group (cutting our teeth in the mid 80's to 90's) it may be games like "Myst" or "Psychonauts", Infocom's "Trinity", "Grim Fandango", or even a silly satire like Mystery Science Theater 3000 Presents "Detective" (http://www.wurb.com/if/game/146); more modern might be Katamari Damacy. Yes, please get off my lawn all you newfangled Xbox360 and Nintendo DS gamers.

If someone's never had an aesthetic moment with a video game it simply means that they haven't found that game yet.

Comment Bank, Lawyers do their job - film at 11 (Score 5, Informative) 251

Per the cease and desist order, it appears that the lawyers on behalf of Kraupthing are doing their job.

The laws themselves appear to be there to protect the client's confidential information. Paraphrasing (IANAL, IANAL, IANAL!) they are:

58. Banks are not suppose to disclose their customer's financial information.
59. Exception #1 - if there is a risk to a parent company
60. Exception #2 - if the customer(s) say it is okay to disclose the information.

So basically the bank and the bank lawyers are doing the job they are legally obligated to do on behalf of their customers.

Comment Re:Proving theft.. (Score 3, Informative) 324

If you had RTFA'd you might have gone to http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-case-of-quant-trading-industrial.html and read the affidavit - http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/Complaint_--_Aleynikov.pdf, you would see that (a) they have proof that the file was transfered (b) they know *exactly* which server the files were uploaded to and (c) Sergey Aleynikov has already confessed to copying the files.

Should be interesting to see how the police "generate" and prove the evidence on this one.

It's all there in the affidavit.

Comment Ignorance != Bliss (Score 4, Insightful) 330

It's infuriating to see the the semi-luddite rantings of the parent post got modded insightful. Makes me wonder why I even read Slashdot anymore.

Clearly the parent poster believes that monitoring devices are for ninnies and the weak. I assume that he follows his logic to it's logical conclusion and

- carefully disables all monitoring and warning devices on all/any vehicles he drives - after all engine check lights are for sissies!
- removes any and all air quality detectors (smoke/carbon monoxide/radon) from his homes (not to mention any security systems)
- if a sysadmin, avoids the use of any and all alterts, alarms, and carefully avoids the instalation of monitoring systems

The fact is that if this was about managing a server farm or a commercial jetliner instead of a person's body there wouldn't be a doubt in anyone's mind that recieving timely accurate information about system health and integrity is a *good* thing.

Ignorance is *not* bliss, and having more information doesn't mean that you necessarily turn into a hypochondriac. It *does* mean you have the knowledge to make responsible, informed choices -- and/or not to.

Pre-emptive monitoring for signs of heart attacks and strokes are no joking matter and detecting these early on mean the difference between mild and serious, life-altering damage or death. But apparently ignorance will be bliss for the parent poster until the "surprise" stroke, adult-onset-diabetes, heart-attack, or too-late cancer diagnosis.

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