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Prizes Aside, the P-NP Puzzler Has Consequences


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page of Communications of the ACM

The September cover article in Communications of the ACM touched off a distinct buzz last month when more than 10 times the usual number of readers downloaded the article in the first two days it went online.

The subject? A survey of progress being made (not much, apparently) in solving the grand challenge for the fields of theoretical computer science and complexity theory. The problem described in the article, "The Status of the P versus NP Problem," has to do with real world tasks like optimizing the layout of transistors on a computer chip or cracking computer codes.

Like earlier grand math challenges, there is a lot at stake, not the least of which is a $1 million cash prize offered for the solution almost a decade ago by the Clay Mathematics Institute. So far no one appears to be close to picking up a check.

From The New York Times
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